The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm.
Portrait of Saturn during a southern hemisphere summer.
Weather Patterns in a Brown Dwarf
Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed “weather map” yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. The forecast shows wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds.
Brown dwarfs form out of condensing gas, as stars do, but lack the mass to fuse hydrogen atoms and produce energy. Instead, these objects, which some call failed stars, are more similar to gas planets with their complex, varied atmospheres. The new research is a stepping stone toward a better understanding not only of brown dwarfs, but also of the atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system.