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Scientists improve brown dwarf weather forecasts

17 August 2017 Astronomy Now

Dim objects called brown dwarfs, less massive than the Sun but more massive than Jupiter, have powerful winds and clouds — specifically, hot patchy clouds made of iron droplets and silicate dust. Scientists recently realised these giant clouds can move and thicken or thin surprisingly rapidly, in less than an Earth day, but did not understand why.

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Scientists get best measure of star-forming material in early galaxy clusters

21 July 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have combined observations from several of the world’s most powerful telescopes to carry out one of the largest studies yet of molecular gas — the raw material which fuels star formation throughout the universe — in three of the most distant clusters of galaxies ever found, detected as they appeared when the Universe was only four billion years old.

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‘Warm Neptune’ has unexpectedly primitive atmosphere

15 May 2017 Astronomy Now

A study combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes reveals that the distant planet HAT-P-26b has a primitive atmosphere composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Located about 437 light-years away, HAT-P-26b orbits a star roughly twice as old as the Sun.