facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Coldest star ever found by NASA astronomers

"It is remarkable that even after many decades of studying the sky, we still do not have a complete inventory of the sun's nearest neighbors," said Michael Werner.
By Brooks Hays   |   April 28, 2014 at 3:29 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- If Earth orbited WISE J085510.83-071442.5, a nearby star newly discovered by NASA scientists, there would likely be no such thing as a bathing suit or short shorts. That's because this "brown dwarf" -- a star too small to enable nuclear fusion and radiate light -- is as cold as the Arctic.

With its temperature fluctuating between minus-54 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit, the star is the coldest ever spotted. Because brown dwarfs give off minimal light and heat, they're extremely hard to find without a telescope outfitted with an infrared lens. Astronomers have detected other brown dwarfs, but their temperatures have been around room temperature.

"It's very exciting to discover a new neighbor of our solar system that is so close," said Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Penn State, in a statement released by NASA. "And given its extreme temperature, it should tell us a lot about the atmospheres of planets, which often have similarly cold temperatures."

At a distance of at 7.2 light-years away, the icy cold ball of gas is the fourth-closest star to Earth’s solar system.

The frigid star was discovered by NASA's Spitzer and WISE Telescopes. Its existence was confirmed by NASA scientists and collaborating astronomers from Penn State.

"It is remarkable that even after many decades of studying the sky, we still do not have a complete inventory of the sun's nearest neighbors," said Michael Werner, an astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who works with data collected by Spitzer. "This exciting new result demonstrates the power of exploring the universe using new tools, such as the infrared eyes of WISE and Spitzer."

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Featured UPI Collection
trending
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
New scientific discoveries during search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane New scientific discoveries during search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane
2
NASA is sending a 3D printer to the International Space Station NASA is sending a 3D printer to the International Space Station
3
The NSA will now map out the entire Internet The NSA will now map out the entire Internet
4
Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India
5
Electric supercar race ends in a serious crash Electric supercar race ends in a serious crash
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback