Band-like clouds seen over Sun’s neighbour

News:A group of astrophysicists with the help of polarimetry technique have found that the closest known brown dwarf, Luhman 16A shows signs of cloud bands similar to those seen on Jupiter and Saturn.


  • Luhman 16A:It is a part of a binary system (Luhman 16) containing a second brown dwarf, Luhman 16B.This pair of brown dwarfs Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B orbit each other.
  • They are situated at a distance of about 6.5 light years from the Sun and the third closest system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s star.
  • Despite having similar masses and temperatures, Luhman 16B shows irregular patchy clouds.On the other hand,Luhman 16A has actual structure of the clouds (not only their presence).
  • Significance:Understanding the cloud system over a brown dwarf can shed light on the pressure, temperature and climate on the surface of the celestial body.

Additional Facts:

  • Polarimetry:It is the technique of measuring the polarization of light.Polarization represents the direction in which the light wave oscillates.When light is reflected of particles it can favor a certain angle of polarization.By measuring the angle from a distant system, astronomers can deduce the presence of clouds.
  • Brown Dwarfs:These are objects which are too large to be called planets and too small to be stars.They are also called as failed stars because their masses are heavier than planets but lighter than stars.
  • Binary Stars:They are two stars orbiting a common center of mass.They are of immense importance to astronomers as they allow the masses of stars to be determined.
  • Celestial Body:It is any natural body outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Examples are the Moon, Sun, other planets of our solar system among others.