NASA's James Webb Space Telescope discovers a record-breaking tiny Brown Dwarf! Know all about it | Tech News

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope discovers a record-breaking tiny Brown Dwarf! Know all about it

In a recent groundbreaking discovery, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has identified the smallest free-floating brown dwarf ever observed.

| Updated on: Dec 15 2023, 11:08 IST
Earth is plagued by solar winds! What are these and how do they trigger solar storms, NASA explains
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1/5 This week, a coronal hole in the Sun opened up, which then began spewing solar winds towards the Earth. As a result, a minor solar storm was triggered on December 13, and another one was triggered a few hours ago today, December 14. Such patchy solar storms are expected to continue for the next few days till the coronal hole is closed and solar winds are stopped. Making our planet vulnerable to solar storms, solar winds are dangerous. But what exactly are they and how are they contributing to the solar storm problem on Earth? NASA explains. (Pixabay)
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2/5 According to a NASA post, solar winds are the outward expansion of plasma from the Sun’s corona (outermost atmosphere). You can imagine them to be a semi-gaseous object that has a strong magnetic field of itself. As it heats up due to the constant nuclear fusion on the Sun, the gravity of the star fails to hold it to its ground. Now where does it go then? We all know that the Sun completes one rotation around its axis in 27 days, which is a very high speed compared to its size. As it rotates, the plasma gets accumulated towards the polar region of the Sun.  (Pixabay)
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3/5 The polar region of the Sun is where the outwardly moving magnetic field lines exist and it surrounds the Sun in a sheath of plasma. But as solar wind projects further and further it spreads itself thin and can no longer resist the inward push of interstellar space medium. As it gets pushed too far, it causes a shockwave called the termination shock, gets flung out and because of its speed and moving pattern, it is known as the solar wind.  (Pixabay)
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4/5 How solar winds cause solar storms: Solar winds do not directly cause solar storms. As explained above, sometimes they weaken the Earth’s magnetic field to make it easier for weaker coronal mass ejections (CME) to enter the lower atmosphere of Earth and cause a storm. One other way these winds help solar storms is by using their own speed to accelerate the CME. And since solar winds contain magnetic charges of their own, it intensifies the CME at the same time, causing more powerful solar storms on Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 It should be noted that solar winds are not dangerous just for causing the CIR effect. Two out of the last three solar storms that occurred on the Earth were all brought on by solar winds and they not only accelerated the timeline for the hit but also made it more intense. They play an important role in bringing solar storms to our planet. (Pixabay)
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According to NASA, a Brown dwarf is a celestial object straddling the line between stars and planets. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, K. Luhman (Penn State University), and C. Alves de Oliveira (ESA)

James Webb Space Telescope run by NASA has helped scientists discover various mysteries of the cosmic world going as far back in time that is extremely close to the Big Bang itself. In a recent groundbreaking discovery, James Webb Space Telescope has identified the smallest free-floating brown dwarf ever observed. NASA scientists have found this smallest object that can form in a star-like manner. Read here to know all about the newly discovered brown dwarf.

What are brown dwarfs?

As explained by NASA, Brown dwarfs are celestial objects straddling the line between stars and planets. They are born just like stars. They grow dense enough and then they collapse under their own gravity. However, they never become dense and hot enough for hydrogen fusion and turn into a star.

Lead author Kevin Luhman and colleague Catarina Alves de Oliveira, from Pennsylvania State University, pinpointed this record-breaking brown dwarf within the young star cluster IC 348. It is located 1,000 light-years away in the Perseus star-forming region. The scientists utilized Webb's advanced technology, specifically the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) to identify brown dwarf candidates from their brightness and colors, imaging the centre of the cluster. They also used Webb's NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) micro shutter array to study the most promising targets

James Webb Telescope's infrared sensitivity played a pivotal role. It enabled NASA scientists to detect fainter objects compared to ground-based telescopes. The telescope's sharp vision allowed the team to distinguish between pinpoint brown dwarfs and blobby background galaxies among red objects. Through this process, three intriguing targets emerged, weighing between three to eight Jupiter masses, with surface temperatures spanning 1,500 to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit (830 to 1,500 degrees Celsius). Notably, the smallest among them, with a weight of three to four times that of Jupiter, according to computer models

Tiny brown dwarfs not only provide insights into the star-formation process but also can contribute to our understanding of exoplanets. The smallest brown dwarfs share similarities with the largest exoplanets, offering valuable clues. Unlike giant exoplanets concealed by their host stars' glare, free-floating brown dwarfs are more accessible for study.

Are these brown dwarfs or something else?

The nature of these objects, situated comfortably within the mass range of giant planets, prompts the question of whether they are brown dwarfs or rogue planets ejected from planetary systems. While the possibility of them being ejected planets is not entirely ruled out, the prevailing argument suggests a higher likelihood of them being brown dwarfs.

Future endeavors may involve more extensive surveys capable of detecting fainter, smaller objects. The initial survey, conducted by the team, aimed to identify objects as small as twice the mass of Jupiter. Longer surveys hold the potential to extend this reach to one Jupiter mass.

The James Webb Space Telescope is actively unraveling mysteries within our solar system, exploring distant worlds around other stars, and delving into the enigmatic structures and origins of our universe. Led by NASA in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the James Webb Space Telescope stands as a testament to international scientific collaboration.

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First Published Date: 15 Dec, 11:07 IST