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Coldest star found: temperature no warmer than hot coffee

Liu and his colleagues spotted the star using the Keck II Telescope in Hawaii, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope also in Hawaii, and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. (Photo courtesy: L. Calçada, ESO)

Astronomers claim that they have discovered dimmest and the coldest star.

Dubbed CFBDSIR 1458+10b, the star is four to five times dimmer and 130 degrees cooler than previous cold stars found.

Found hiding 75 years away from Earth, it's surface temperature is around 206 degrees F (97 degrees C), thus not warm than a cup of hot coffee.

Study leader Michael Liu, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, stated, “Over the years there has been steady but slow progress in pushing the boundaries of finding the coldest stars.

"But with this latest discovery we have made a big leap forward—besting the previous record holder by at least 150 Kelvin [270 degrees F, or 150 degrees C].”

The star is actually a brown dwarf, a type of star that lacks the required mass to give way to nuclear reaction that makes the stars shine.

New star: a brown dwarf
Liu and his colleagues spotted the star using the Keck II Telescope in Hawaii, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope also in Hawaii, and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

With their help, scientists measured the star's temperature and analyzed its infrared spectrum.

This star is actually a brown dwarf, a type of star that lacks the required mass to give way to nuclear reaction that makes the stars shine.

Further, they are too massive to be considered a planet. For instance, CFBDSIR 1458 10b's mass is six to 15 times that of Jupiter.

CFBDSIR 1458+10b is closer to exoplanets
But what separates the newly found star from other planets is that it is the coldest brown dwarf found till date. Further, astronomers expect it might exhibit properties of a gas planet.

“At such temperatures we expect the brown dwarf to have properties that are different from previously known brown dwarfs and much closer to those of giant exoplanets – it could even have water clouds in its atmosphere," stated Liu.

"In fact, once we start taking images of gas-giant planets around sun-like stars in the near future, I expect that many of them will look like CFBDSIR 1458+10B,” he added.

Also, the scientists hope that the new brown dwarf will help them in understanding how water cloud formation takes place in the atmosphere of giant gas planets.

But the new star may not hold the coldest title for long as the scientists are studying another cooler brown dwarf which could have a temperature of 86 degrees F (30 degrees C).

The new findings have been published in the online issue of 'Astrophysical Journal.'