NASA scientists made a new discovery, and the dwarf star displays Jupiter-like strong storms in addition to having its own ‘Great Red Spot’ that is so well known by space enthusiasts. Their interesting find was done using NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer telescopes, often used to detect new planets. This time, however, they found something different.
W1906+40 is 53 light years away
According to one of the researchers, John Gizis, the dwarf star is not only similar to the largest planet in our solar system, but its storm is just as big and vicious as the ‘Great Red Spot’. That means that the mark of raging never-ending storms could hold three Earths inside its powerful winds. It’s a feat highly unusual for stars.
The Jupiter look-alike is named W1906+40 and it’s about 53 light years away from our planet. It’s considered to be part of a group of space objects called L-dwarfs. L-dwarfs come in two variations: stars that fuse atoms and generate light through the process, and brown dwarfs, otherwise known as “failed stars” as they do not present the same fusion. Thus, the latter do not generate light.
It’s raining minerals
The scientists reached the conclusion that W1906+40 is a star due to its age. By rule, the older the L-dwarf, the likelier it is that it is indeed a star, instead of a brown dwarf. The space object’s temperature stay as high as 3,500oF, though that is reportedly relatively cool for a star, as hard to believe as that sounds. In fact, it’s definitely cold enough to produce clouds.
However, these are not the typical clouds found on Earth that precipitate water. Instead, these clouds are made of tiny minerals that probably rain salt, iron, or sand.
The raging storm itself is ongoing, and has reportedly been furiously going on for the past 2 years, or even longer. According to Gizis, they do not know if the star storm is unique or uncommon for W1906+40, nor why it continues for so long. It’s unusual in the first place for such formations to exist on stars. It’s found around the top pole of W1906+40, rotating around it every 9 hours.
It’s a remarkable find, and a rare one at that. Spitzer has observed such cloudy brown dwarfs before, but the storms across their surface were short-lived. Commonly, they lasted a couple of hours, or perhaps even days. However, W1906+40 has shown an ongoing storm of over two years.
To the human eye, if it ever were to approach the star close enough, it would look like a dark mark, instead of the swirling storm and powerful winds that hide within it.
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