WISE's first cool brown dwarf, WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9

Friday, November 12, 2010

WISE announced a few days ago the discovery of a brown dwarf, a quite cool one that now has the lengthy name WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9. I didn't write about it when the discovery was first announced as this brown dwarf isn't the type I'm most excited about, namely a brown dwarf closer to us than Alpha Centauri is. This one happens to be somewhere from 18 to 30 light years away, which is fairly close but still nowhere close enough to excite the imagination in the way that a nearer object would.

Nevertheless, it's still worth writing about. The field in which the brown dwarf is located can be seen in this image from here:

It's hard to tell unless you click on the image to zoom in, but this brown dwarf shows up as a tiny green dot in the centre of all that blue, which is the way you look if your temperature is a mere 600 Kelvin (325 C), which is cooler than Venus.

Two other brown dwarfs were discovered by the telescope in August, and according to the people behind the mission itself WISE is expected to find about a thousand brown dwarfs (pdf link), so there are a few left to discover, assuming predictions about the frequency of these objects turn out to be correct.

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