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Brown dwarf

WISE J085510.83-071442.5.0 is the coldest brown dwarf yet found (Image: NASA)

We tend to think of stars as being very, very hot, but what about a star that you could use as a deep freeze? Astronomers using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered a dim star-like object with the catchy title WISE J085510.83-071442.5.0 that is colder than the North Pole. Lying about 7.2 light years from Earth, it is not only the coldest brown dwarf on record, but the fourth-closest star system to the Solar System.  Read More

Artist's conception of exoplanet PSO J318.5-22, which was discovered floating through inte...

If you think being stuck in a strange town late at night after the last bus has gone is lonely, then give a thought for the exoplanet PSO J318.5-22. Discovered this year by astronomers at the University of Hawaii, this planet was found floating through interstellar space without a parent star and is one of the smallest free-floating objects seen outside of the Solar System.  Read More

Artist's conception of WISE J1049-5319, with the brightly shining Sun 6.5 light years away...

In a day when we have examined astronomical objects shining forth from a time shortly after the Big Bang, one would think astronomers have a pretty good handle on what is in the immediate vicinity of the Solar System. That's why the recent report of a binary star lying only 6.5 light-years away came as rather a surprise to the astronomical community. The pair, called WISE J1049-5319 A and B, are brown dwarf stars and only two star systems – the triple star Alpha Centauri, and Barnard's Star – lie closer to our Sun.  Read More

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