Storms as big as Jupiter’s ‘great red spot’ discovered on brown dwarfs

Washington, Jan. 8: New observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have suggested that most brown dwarfs also feature one or more Jupiter’s “Great Red Spot” like planet-size storms.

Stanimir Metchev of the University of Western Ontario, Canada, said that as the brown dwarfs spin on their axis, the alternation of what they think are cloud-free and cloudy regions produces a periodic brightness variation that they can observe, asserting that these are signs of patchiness in the cloud cover.

Scientists think that the cloudy regions on brown dwarfs take the form of torrential storms, accompanied by winds and, possibly, lightning more violent than that at Jupiter or any other planet in our solar system.

However, the brown dwarfs studied so far are too hot for water rain; instead, astronomers believe the rain in these storms, like the clouds themselves, is made of hot sand, molten iron or salts.

In a Spitzer program named “Weather on Other Worlds,” astronomers used the infrared space telescope to watch 44 brown dwarfs as they rotated on their axis for up to 20 hours. However, to their surprise, half of the brown dwarfs showed the variations.

When you take into account that half of the objects would be oriented in such a way that their storms would be either hidden or always in view and unchanging, the results indicate that most, if not all, brown dwarfs are racked by storms. (ANI)