News / Science & Technology

Weather on Luhman, Cloudy With a Chance of Molten Iron Rain

This artist's impression is based on the first-ever map of the weather on the surface of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, informally known as Luhman16B, recreated from VLT observations. Credit: ESO/I. Crossfield/N. Risinger
This artist's impression is based on the first-ever map of the weather on the surface of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, informally known as Luhman16B, recreated from VLT observations. Credit: ESO/I. Crossfield/N. Risinger
Reuters
You think the weather is bad on Earth lately. On Luhman 16B, a hybrid planet-star located 6.7 light years away, scientists say it's raining molten iron, research released on Wednesday shows.
 
The first weather maps from this dim, gaseous object known as a brown dwarf, show a complex structure of patchy clouds, comprised of liquid iron and other minerals stewing in scorching temperatures, a pair of studies show.
 
Computer models indicate that as a brown dwarfs cools, liquid droplets containing iron and other minerals form in their atmospheres. The new studies indicate the droplets gather into patchy clouds, which then rain down.
 
Brown dwarfs are bigger than Jupiter-sized planets, but too small for nuclear fusion, the signature process that gives a star its shine. Also known as “failed stars,” brown dwarfs are born hot and emit faint but telltale infrared light as they slowly cool.
 
Temperatures in the clouds of Luhman 16B, for example, are 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit (927 degrees Celsius).
 
Only a few hundred or so brown dwarfs have been found so far.
 
Scientists devised an innovative technique that not only could detect how Luhman 16B, located 40 trillion miles (64 trillion km), varied in brightness, but also whether light and dark features were moving toward or away from observing telescopes.
 
The information was then compiled into cloud maps.
 
“Soon, we will be able to watch cloud patterns form, evolve and dissipate on this brown dwarf,” astronomer Ian Crossfield, with the Max Planck Institute in Germany, said in a statement.
 
Scientists expect to use similar techniques to understand the weather and composition of planets beyond the solar system.
 
The studies are published in the journals Nature and the Astrophysical Journal Letters

Loading player...

Video Credit: ESO/I. Crossfield/N. Risinger

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid