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James Webb Space Telescope Unveils Mysteries of Cold Brown Dwarf W1935

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a marvel of modern astronomy, has recently made a startling discovery. The telescope's data suggests the presence of possible aurorae on a cold brown dwarf named W1935, located 47 light-years away from Earth. This revelation has sparked intrigue and excitement in the scientific community, as it challenges our current understanding of these celestial bodies.


A Cold Brown Dwarf with a Warm Secret


Brown dwarfs, often referred to as "failed stars," are celestial objects that are too large to be considered planets but too small to sustain hydrogen fusion, the process that powers stars. W1935 is one such brown dwarf, with a surface temperature of about 400° Fahrenheit, relatively cold in astronomical terms.


However, the JWST detected something unexpected from W1935 - methane emission. Methane is usually absorbed by such objects, not emitted. This unusual observation led scientists to further investigate the atmospheric conditions of W1935.


An Atmospheric Anomaly: Temperature Inversion


The investigation revealed that W1935 might have a temperature inversion, a phenomenon where the atmosphere gets warmer with increasing altitude. This is contrary to the norm, where temperatures decrease with altitude. Temperature inversions are usually caused by an external heat source, but W1935 is isolated, with no nearby star to provide such heat.


The Aurora Hypothesis


The researchers suspect that aurorae, similar to those seen on Jupiter and Saturn, might be heating the upper atmosphere of W1935. Aurorae, also known as polar lights, are natural light displays caused by charged particles colliding with atoms in a planet's atmosphere. They are typically powered by solar wind from a host star. However, unlike Jupiter and Saturn, W1935 lacks a host star to create solar wind and power aurorae.


An Undiscovered Moon: The Missing Piece?


The team proposes an active moon, not yet discovered, as a possible source of energetic particles that could create aurorae on W1935. This moon could be emitting particles that interact with W1935's atmosphere, causing the aurorae and the subsequent temperature inversion.


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