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Astronomers map cloud patterns on brown dwarf
Posted: Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 7:27 AM ET (1227 GMT)
Luhman 16B brown dwarf illus. (ESO/I. Crossfield/N. Risinger) European astronomers have, for the first time, mapped the cloud patterns on a nearby brown dwarf. Astronomers used the European Souther Observatory's Very Large Telescope to observe Luhman 16B, one of a pair of brown dwarfs discovered last year only six light-years from Earth. Researchers used those observations to create a map of light and dark regions on the object that they believe correspond to cloud patterns. Brown dwarfs are objects larger than planets but too small to sustain nuclear fusion and be a star, instead glowing faintly at infrared wavelengths. Astronomers believe studies of these brown dwarfs will help them better understand "hot Jupiter" exoplanets that orbit close to their stars.
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