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Discovered: A Cold, Close Neighbor of the Sun. NASA. April 25, 2014.
The joint effort between NASAs Wife-field Infrared Survey Explorer, aka WISE,
and the Spitzer Space Telescope has led to the discovery of a celestial object. The
object, named "WISE J085510.83-071442.5, appears to be the coldest brown dwarf-a star like mass-- located to date. At only 7.2 light years away, the brown dwarf is
currently the fourth closest system to our solar system. The discovery was made at
the Pennsylvania State Universitys Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds,
University Park by Kevin Luhman, an astronomer who works at the institution.
WISE was able to locate the object by using infrared light. After multiple
scans of the sky, the brown dwarfs thermal glow was detected by WISE. Under
visible light telescopes, the brown dwarf would be invisible due to its low
temperature. Brown dwarfs are extremely similar to stars, as they start their life
cycle as collapsing balls of gas. However, because of their lower mass, they cannot
sustain nuclear fusion and radiate energy.
With the technology today, such as NASAs Wife-field Infrared Survey Explorer
and the Spitzer Space Telescope, highly detailed images can allow todays
astronomers to locate various celestial objects. WISE J085510.83-071442.5
appeared as a fast moving object, indicating that it was unique and special. Kevin
Luhman, the lead astronomer, used additional images taken with Spitzer and the

Gemini South telescope in Chile to further learn about the brown dwarf. Infrared
photographs taken by Spitzer helped determine the temperature of the brown
dwarf, which is between minus 48 to minus 13 degrees Celsius. The discovery
surpasses previous record holders for the coldest brown dwarfs, which were around
temperature room. Additionally, WISE and Spitzer were able to detect the dwarf
from different positions around the sun, which allowed the precise measurement of
its distance by using the parallax effect. WISE J085510.83-071442.5 has an
estimated mass of roughly 3 to 10 times the mass of Jupiter. Because of its low
mass, the brown dwarf could be a gas giant that got ejected from its system.
However, probability wise, it is unlikely since brown dwarfs are well known to be
WISE J085510.83-071442.5 is a significant discovery, as it is a record setting
find. Currently, WISE J085510.83-071442.5 is the coldest brown dwarf discovered in
the universe. Furthermore, it is fourth closest extra-solar system to the Sun. The
discovery is truly ground-breaking in the brown dwarf category. Additionally, there is
also a possibility that an exoplanet is present as well. Checking the wobble of the
mass would indicate whether or not a planet is in orbit. However, it would not be the
first brown dwarf to have an exoplanet, thus making the discovery less significant.
Nevertheless, the discovery of WISE J085510.83-071442.5 is record breaking and
significant in astronomy.
In my opinion, I believe our organization should not offer funds for this
research. First of all, the researchers primary goals are the find brown dwarfs,

which might not satisfy all our stakeholders since most are more intrigued the
pursuit of Earth-like planets. Additionally, the chances of finding extra-terrestrial life
near brown dwarfs are near impossible. The environment that exists around these
types of stars are extremely unpredictable, therefore it cannot support sustainable
life. However, WISE J085510.83-071442.5 demonstrates the success of current
astronomic technology. Funding the development of even more advanced
technology and equipment would be wise, as the discovery of WISE J085510.83071442.5 proves the usefulness of the fancy equipment. Clearly, society as a whole
would benefit from further developed astronomic equipment.