Brown Dwarf May Be Host To Massive, Violent Mega Storm
Earth isn't the only celestial body having some bad weather.
It seems scientists have actually discovered a brown dwarf (a celestial object that is smaller than a normal star) hosting one of the most violent, massive storms they've ever seen, according to Space.com. The brown dwarf, currently known as 2MASS J21392676+0220226, had a 30 percent change in brightness in the course of just 8 hours, suggesting that massive parts of it are covered by the swirling storm.
As Discovery News writes about the brightness variations, "a brown dwarf doesn't have surface features like bright ice caps and dark lava flows that one would expect on the solid surface of a rocky planet."
"We might be looking at a gigantic storm raging on this brown dwarf, perhaps a grander version of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter in our own solar system, or we may be seeing the hotter, deeper layers of its atmosphere through big holes in the cloud deck," said University of Toronto astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana in a press release.
The similarities between this type of storm on a brown dwarf and storms like the swirling red storm on Jupiter, as well as other gas giants, may mark similar behaviors. Despite being relatively small for stars, brown dwarfs are larger than even gas giant planets.
The data gained from this discovery could help for better weather mapping on gas giant planets in our own solar system, and across the universe, according to the study's abstract. The findings will be published in the newest version of The Astophysical Journal, and will be presented at the Extreme Solar Systems II conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this week.
The weather patterns found on gas giants have long intrigued scientists. Recently, researchers used the Cassini spacecraft to discover this storm on Saturn, which measures about six times the size of Earth.