Weather has been detected on brown dwarf stars, which are cool ‘failed stars’. While brown dwarfs are still too warm for water rain or snow, infrared observations with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have detected mottled surfaces that have been interpreted as clouds. Not white fluffy clouds either, but at temperatures of 1,000 to 2,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 to 3,664 degrees Fahrenheit) the clouds are made of silicate (rocky) particles such as iron.
On the brown dwarf named 2M1404B, these ‘rocky’ clouds emit near-infrared light, making the clouds appear darker at that wavelength and the brown dwarf to appear patchy.
These clouds could also rain hot sand or molten iron. Meanwhile, in one survey Spitzer also observed 44 brown dwarfs and found that half of them had brightness variations that matched what you would expect to see if they had giant storms like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot dominating their atmospheres.
Got a question for us? Send it into firstname.lastname@example.org and you could see it featured in All About Space – available every month for just £4.50. Alternatively you can subscribe here for a fraction of the price!