Meet the New Neighbors

brown_dwarfsWISE J104915.57-531906 is at the center of the main image, which was taken by the  Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). This is the closest star system discovered since 1916, and the third closest to our sun. It is 6.5 light-years away. At first, the light appeared to be from a single object, but a sharper image from Gemini Observatory in Chile revealed that it was from a pair of cool star-like bodies called brown dwarfs.

The pair is only slightly farther away than the second-closest star, Barnard’s star, which was found 6 light-years away in 1916. The closest star system consists of: Alpha Centauri, found in 1839 at 4.4 light-years away, and the fainter Proxima Centauri, discovered in 1917 at 4.2 light-years.

Since WISE J104915.57-531906 is only 6.5 light-years away Earth’s television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there, and viewers there are still watching the first season of the Tenth Doctor with David Tennant.

Image Credit: NASA

Quote of the Day

We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lighter blue. And blowing through the blueness and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air. And there shining, burning, bursting through, the stars! Can you see how they roar their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes!

—The Eleventh Doctor