It is a brown dwarf, but it is much colder and bluer than its peers: scientists wonder about a celestial body full of anomalies
In recent years, discoveries in space have multiplied. We have at our disposal new technologies and new tools that can take us, even if only by sight, where we thought we could never get.
In spite of this, there are still many unsolved doubts. What is at the center of a black hole? Can string theory be confirmed? Is there another habitable planet? Among these questions, there are many that revolve around a very special celestial object, called The Accident, that scientists are wondering about.
What we know about The Accident
We have known of its existence relatively recently, and the object's official name is WISEA J153429.75-104303.3. It is a brown dwarf, a ball of gas that never had enough mass to initiate nuclear fusion and thus become a full-fledged star. But it's cool, and different from other known examples of brown dwarfs.
There are many brown dwarfs in the universe that we've observed: about a hundred million of these stars that didn't make it. They are hard to spot, however, because they are distant and faded: we have only been able to study in detail 2 thousand of them.
The hotter they are, the easier they are to spot. That's why the hardest to see are the Y brown dwarfs, those at less than 176° - the standard oven temperature in our homes when we cook. They are important to study, however, because they represent the link between stars and planets. In fact, it's not the first time a planet has been mistaken for a star.
The discovery of The Accident was also peculiar: the first to spot it was an amateur astronomer, Dan Caselden, who was tracking the movements of another celestial body. There were subsequent observations with the Hubble telescope as well, and the weirdness began.
Why The Accident is so peculiar
First of all it has a different color than other brown dwarfs, and then it's definitely colder: as we said, cold brown dwarfs are the hardest to spot, and The Accident is one of the 50 coldest.
But it's the color that's the most fascinating part: while it's very cold, it has a bluer color than other brown dwarfs. And usually in the universe, the coldest things are red. Astronomers think that the reason for this coloration is its age: it is in fact a very old celestial body, which may have formed when the chemical composition of the universe was different. This also makes The Accident very important for understanding what the Milky Way looked like billions of years ago.
The Accident's discovery has made scientists realize something else important: brown dwarfs aren't static, but they do move around the universe, and quite quickly.