Spitzer Snaps a Picture of the Coolest of Companions

Spitzer Space Telescope
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured a picture of a nearby star and its orbiting companion - whose temperature is like a hot summer day in Arizona.

"We have discovered a new record-holder for the coldest companion imaged outside of the solar system, which is nearly as cold as Earth," said Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and lead author of a pair of papers on the findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

"We believe the object is a brown dwarf, but it could be a gas-giant planet as well."

Based on the infrared light that it emits, the cool object, named WD 0806-661 B, appears to have a temperature in the range of 80 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit (about 27 to 70 degrees Celsius).

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