A team of astronomers has observed an unusual brown dwarf located at a distance of 6.5 light-years in the Vela constellation. Bands of clouds seem to cover the entire star in the same vein as the ones which are encountered on Jupiter.
This is not the first time when stripes of this type have been observed on a brown dwarf. However, it is the first time when the detection was made with the help of polarimetry. Polarimetry allows astronomers to measure objects by observing the way in which the light they emit is polarized.
Polarimetry has been used in the past, but new advances related to state-of-the-art technology and new analysis techniques, which make it attractive for new applications. It may not be as easy to use as other methods. Still, the recent improvements have made it more precise or sensitive than it was, facilitating new research of a variety of interesting objects.
Brown dwarf amazes the scientists with its bands of clouds
The distance between Earth and the brown dwarf is not significant from an astronomical point of view, but it is still distant enough to prevent researchers from observing fine details.
Brown dwarfs are an exciting type of star since they are at the crossroads between a planet and a star, and are often known under the name of failed stars. They begin to form as other stars do, but due to their petite size, the hydrogen fusion process will not be ignited. Deuterium fusion may work from some of them during the early stages, but they tend to consume fuel at a faster pace.
It is theorized that brown dwarfs will not develop phenomena similar to the presence of the cloud until they reach the start of the cooling stage. The clouds observed in this case are quite impressive as they are similar to the ones found on Jupiter. More data can be found in a paper that was published in a scientific journal.