A research team led by the University of Arizona found winds and jet currents on the closest brown dwarf to Earth.
Brown dwarfs are celestial objects that are neither stars nor planets. They are about the size of Jupiter but usually dozens of times more massive. However, they are smaller than the smallest stars, so their cores do not have enough pressure to fuse atoms as stars do.
Previously, researchers found that brown dwarfs are very similar to Jupiter. Based on the nature of their atmosphere, high-speed winds run parallel to the equators. Due to this, the heat emanating from its bowels is redistributed on the dwarf.
Knowing how winds blow on dwarfs and how heat is redistributed is important, as it helps us understand the climate, extreme temperatures, and evolution.
To find out, the research team used NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, to study the two closest brown dwarfs to Earth. They are 6.5 light-years away. The brown dwarfs are named Luhman 16 A and B. Luhman 16 A is about 34 times as massive as Jupiter, and Luhman 16 B, which was the main study target, is about 28 times more massive than Jupiter and about 815 degrees hotter.
Using advanced algorithms developed by the team members, the researchers obtained highly accurate brightness measurements as two brown dwarfs rotate. The researchers’ results show a lot in common between the atmospheric circulation of the planets of the solar system and brown dwarfs. As a result, brown dwarfs can serve as more massive counterparts to existing giant planets.