This cosmic snapshot
composed with image data from NASA's Wide-field
Infrared Survey Explorer
satellite captures a multitude of
faint stars and distant galaxies toward the constellation Lyra at
wavelengths longer than visible light.
But the object circled at the center is not quite a star.
Cataloged as WISE 1828+2650, it lies within 40 light-years of the Sun
and is currently the
coldest brown dwarf known.
A brown dwarf begins like a star, with the
gravitational collapse of a
dense cloud of gas and dust, but is not massive enough to achieve the
core temperatures and densities that trigger
fusion, the stable source of a star's energy.
Instead the failed star ultimately cools and emits most of its light at
Remarkably, brown dwarfs are
roughly the size of the planet Jupiter.
How cold is WISE 1828+2650?
While brown dwarfs
have measured surface temperatures of up to 1,400
degrees C (2,600 degress F), this brown dwarf ,
spectral class Y,
has the estimated temperature of a warm room, less than
about 27 degrees C (80 degrees F).