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Postcard from Spitzer: weather on 2MASSJ22282889-431026 is hot and cloudy » anatomy of a brown dwarf

This artist's conception illustrates the brown dwarf named 2MASSJ22282889-431026. NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes observed the object to learn more about its turbulent atmosphere. Brown dwarfs are more massive and hotter than planets but lack the mass required to become sizzling stars. Their atmospheres can be similar to the giant planet Jupiter's.

Spitzer and Hubble simultaneously observed the object as it rotated every 1.4 hours. The results suggest wind-driven, planet-size clouds.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the bright star Vega, as illustrated here at left in brown. The ring of warm, rocky debris was detected using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

In this diagram, the Vega system, which was already known to have a cooler outer belt of comets (orange), is compared to our solar system with its asteroid and Kuiper belts. The relative size of our solar system compared to Vega is illustrated by the small drawing in the middle. On the right, our solar system is scaled up four times.

The comparison illustrates that both systems have inner and outer belts with similar proportions. The gap between the inner and outer debris belts in both systems works out to a ratio of about 1-to-10, with the outer belt 10 times farther away from its host star than the inner belt.

Astronomers think that the gap in the Vega system may be filled with planets, as is the case in our solar system.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech