FOUND: A Star Storm And, Maybe, Planet X - Atlas Obscura
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FOUND: A Star Storm And, Maybe, Planet X

An artist’s conception (Image: NASA)

Fifty-three light years away from our planet, an L-dwarf star has a storm raging near its north pole. And it’s pretty incredible, from an Earthling’s point of view. 

L-dwarfs are small and cool, as far as stars go, but the storm itself is “larger than Earth,” says NASA, and 3500 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s cool enough for clouds to form, although, as USA TODAY explains, the material that rains down from these clouds is “made of hot sand, molten iron or salts.”

The storm has been going on for at least two years, and is akin to Jupiter’s turbulent Great Red Spot. Scientists don’t know much about storms on stars and planets, though, so this L-dwarf one is an important find for astronomers.

Just a random and fantastic globular cluster (Image: NASA)

Closer to home, two new objects floating through space have been detected by scientists using a powerful telescope in Chile. One, which might be something like a brown dwarf star or maybe a superplanet, is still unnamed, while the other, which might be a smaller planet or an asteroid, has been called Gna. The scientists who discovered them have suggested in a paper that has yet to be officially peer reviewed that these objects may be part of our solar system—that they may fit the description of Planet X.

Planet X is, essentially, a theory explaining some of the quirks of the orbits in our solar system. These two newly found objects were observed twice, Scientific American explains, but their speed indicated that they were relatively close to our own solar system.

That’s about all we know, and it’s not a lot. Plenty of scientists who have looked informally at the papers describing these objects, which were posted to arXiv, an online repository for papers that haven’t been published yet, have been skeptical that these objects fit the Planet X bill.

The lesson here: astronomers spend a lot of time looking a tiny bits of light from far away. Some of them, we’re pretty sure mean there’s something awesome out there. Others might just be little blips of light.

Bonus finds: Jersey shipwreckthe owner of those 747s

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.