Water Clouds Over a Rogue Planet

(Slate::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Just 7 light-years away from the Sun – practically in our laps in galactic terms – lies an amazing object. Called WISE 0855, it’s not really a star, because it is far too low in mass to ignite nuclear fusion in its core. That’s the gold standard for stardom, and WISE 0855 falls far, far short of it.

Objects like that are generally called brown dwarfs, but even then it’s not clear; WISE 0855 has between three and 10 times the mass of Jupiter, and brown dwarfs fade down into planets near the top of that range. So it may very well be a very massive planet.

But it doesn’t orbit a star. If it’s a planet, it’s a rogue planet. …

bad_astronomy 2016/11/01 wise_0855

WISE 0855 art

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