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Brown Dwarf With Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light-Years From Earth 85

sciencehabit (1205606) writes Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth — less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.
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Brown Dwarf With Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light-Years From Earth

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  • by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @03:16AM (#47763163) Homepage Journal
    The abstract says "this is the first candidate outside our own solar system to have direct evidence for water clouds." Which is true in the sense that water in star spots is vapor and not condensed. However molecular clouds often have water ice in them and so might be considered water clouds if condensation is the criterion. This is cool discovery.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:36AM (#47763343)

    Not if it's cold.

    Thing is this brown dwarf was hard to find because it's cool, at near the ambient, a few K, invisible.

    I also don't think normal matter explains it all either, but I'd be unsurprised if there wasn't quite a lot more normal but very cold matter as well.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:44AM (#47763355) Journal
    Exactly, we think of Jupiter as being huge but the Sun holds 98% of all the matter in our solar system. If the "missing mass" were normal cold matter, such a great quantity would effectively block the light of the stars we can see, astronomy would not exists because we wouldn't see anything except our own sun and moon.

    Similar inane arguments were aimed at Newton, plenty of 15th century scholars thought that the fact a bird can fly disproved the theory of gravity. We still don't know what the hell gravity is (other than a property of matter) but we no longer question it's existence and have developed a very good understanding of how it behaves. Dark matter is harder to wrap one's head around because it's effects can not be observed in everyday human experience. However the effects are real and the tag scientists have given them is "dark matter".
  • Re:Occam's razor. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by idji ( 984038 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @06:01AM (#47763515)
    No, Astronomers have asked the WIMP [] vs MACHO [] question for many decades now, and WIMPs are winning.

    Occam's Razor has always been applied here, and that is why it is still an open question, because the simple and obvious answer (MACHO) is not working and extraordinary evidence is being found, eg the Physic's Nobel Prize 2011 [].

    This article is not about MACHO vs WIMP. It says they found a nearby MACHO with water vapor, and that is very interesting for life questions, not dark matter questions.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:53AM (#47764195) Journal

    The brown dwarf that orbits the sun is called Jupiter.

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