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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 22 2017, @08:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the What-Would-Gimli-Say? dept.

[Researchers] have a new model for explaining how clouds move and change shape in brown dwarfs, using insights from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Giant waves cause large-scale movement of particles in brown dwarfs' atmospheres, changing the thickness of the silicate clouds, researchers report in the journal Science. The study also suggests these clouds are organized in bands confined to different latitudes, traveling with different speeds in different bands.

"This is the first time we have seen atmospheric bands and waves in brown dwarfs," said lead author Daniel Apai, associate professor of astronomy and planetary sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

[...] "The atmospheric winds of brown dwarfs seem to be more like Jupiter's familiar regular pattern of belts and zones than the chaotic atmospheric boiling seen on the Sun and many other stars," said study co-author Mark Marley at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

Zones, spots, and planetary-scale waves beating in brown dwarf atmospheres (DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9848) (DX)

Original Submission

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Large Gas Giant or Small Brown Dwarf Discovered Near the Galactic Bulge Using Microlensing 8 comments

Scientists have used the Spitzer Space Telescope to find a possible exoplanet or brown dwarf candidate, OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, around 22,000 light years away near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Spitzer is currently using transit photometry and gravitational microlensing to find exoplanets, a use the telescope wasn't originally designed for. Spitzer recently discovered five of the seven exoplanets around TRAPPIST-1 using the transit photometry method.

OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb is likely to be the first exoplanet Spitzer has found in the Milky Way's Galactic bulge using gravitational microlensing. At an estimated 13.4 ± 0.9 Jupiter masses, the object is right near the deuterium burning limit, the boundary dividing large gas giants from brown dwarfs.

The paper explains the significance of the discovery:

The discovery of Spitzer microlensing planet OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb is remarkable in five different respects. First, it is the first planet in the Spitzer Galactic-distribution sample that likely lies in the Galactic bulge, which would break the trend from the three previous members of this sample. Second, it is precisely measured to be right at the edge of the brown dwarf desert. Since the existence of the brown dwarf desert is the signature of different formation mechanisms for stars and planets, the extremely close proximity of OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb to this desert raises the question of whether it is truly a "planet" (by formation mechanism) and therefore reacts back upon its role tracing the Galactic distribution of planets, just mentioned above. Third, it is the first planet to enter the Spitzer "blind" sample whose existence was recognized prior to its choice as a Spitzer target. This seeming contradiction was clearly anticipated by Yee et al. (2015b) when they established their protocols for the Galactic distribution experiment. The discovery therefore tests the well-defined, but intricate procedures devised by Yee et al. (2015b) to deal with this possibility. Fourth, it is the first planet (and indeed the first microlensing event) for which the well-known microlens-parallax degeneracy has been broken by observations from two satellites. Finally, it is the first microlensing planet for which a complete orbital solution has been attempted. While this attempt is not completely successful in that a one-dimensional degeneracy remains, it is an important benchmark on the road to such solutions.

Also at Newsweek and BGR.

OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb: First Spitzer Bulge Planet Lies Near the Planet/Brown-Dwarf Boundary

Related: Seven Earth-Sized Exoplanets, Including Three Potentially Habitable, Identified Around TRAPPIST-1
Scientists Improve Brown Dwarf Weather Forecasts

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22 2017, @10:07AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22 2017, @10:07AM (#557451)

    Giant waves cause large-scale movement of particles in brown dwarfs' atmospheres, changing the thickness of the silicate clouds, researchers report in the journal Science.

    And giant electrical arcs pass through the dusty clouds fusing clumps of it together. These concentrated points become shorter paths of least resistance and accumulate more rock as they're tossed about in the violent winds, much as hail ice does -- starting as single molecules and sometimes winding up the size of softballs here in Earth's thin atmosphere.

    Then ancient sky-watchers document the birth of new planets "vomited" from the mouth of a God, parts of those planetary gods even falling to earth and impregnating the world in their legends. No, of course not, it couldn't be that our accretion disk theory of how planets, moons and asteroids form is totally bogus and unable to explain the amount of cratering -- cratering that is almost always 90 degrees perpendicular to the surface, like all electrical bolts are but most "collisions" would not be. No, of course the ancient legends are pure poppycock, and not based on a morsel of truth at all.

    TL;DR: Dude, they're bullshitting you. They don't know fuck-all about weather unless they've modeled electromagnetism, and they haven't.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22 2017, @02:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22 2017, @02:25PM (#557517)

      What if I told you, what you claim is utter bullshit?

      Where's your actual calculation, based on an actual model rather than fuzzy prose, that agrees with the observation and doesn't contradict any of the millions of experiments done down on earth (and in near-earth space)? Note that not a single experiment done on earth contradicts in any way the established theories of physics on which those models are built. That experimental data is much better evidence than a liberal interpretation of ancient myths.

  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday August 22 2017, @02:37PM (3 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 22 2017, @02:37PM (#557519) Homepage

    So how are they observing these brown dwarfs? I find it hard to imagine that occultation provides enough data to distinguish weather.

    -- hendrik

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Tuesday August 22 2017, @04:01PM (2 children)

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday August 22 2017, @04:01PM (#557545) Journal

      It is easier to study brown dwarfs than planets because they often do not have a bright host star that obscures them.

      "It is likely the banded structure and large atmospheric waves we found in brown dwarfs will also be common in giant exoplanets," Apai said.

      Using Spitzer, scientists monitored brightness changes in six brown dwarfs over more than a year, observing each of them rotate 32 times. As a brown dwarf rotates, its clouds move in and out of the hemisphere seen by the telescope, causing changes in the brightness of the brown dwarf. Scientists then analyzed these brightness variations to explore how silicate clouds are distributed in the brown dwarfs.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22 2017, @10:50PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22 2017, @10:50PM (#557757)

        Sunspots do the same. How do they know they are banded?

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday August 25 2017, @06:37PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 25 2017, @06:37PM (#559052) Homepage

        I am truly impressed.