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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Massive Storm on Alien World
12 September 2011 12:54 pm
Extreme and irregular variations in the brightness of a nearby brown dwarf suggest the star's atmosphere is wracked with storms. Using data gathered by an infrared camera during a survey of such stars, astronomers have found that the brightness of a brown dwarf—dubbed 2MASS 2139, which lies about 47 light-years from Earth—varied as much as 30% in less than 8 hours. That radical variation could be best explained by brighter and darker patches of its cloudy atmosphere (see image) rotating into view as the star spins on its axis, the researchers contend. Or, as they will report later this week at the Extreme Solar Systems II conference in Jackson Lake, Wyoming, it's possible that bright spots represent brief glimpses of deep, hot layers of atmosphere through dark clouds composed of silicate and metallic dust grains. If the variations are caused by massive storms similar to those that occasionally rage on Jupiter and Saturn, then the storms are larger than any yet discovered on a planet.
See more ScienceShots.