Picture of the Day: CFBDSIR 1458+10B, the Coldest Star

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CFBDSIR 1458+10B is a newly discovered dwarf located about 75 light-years from Earth. It's also the coldest known star, with a temperature that "is roughly equivalent to a fresh cup of tea," according to Space.com. "The object is part of a double system and is a type of star known as a brown dwarf, which is essentially a failed star. Brown dwarfs lack enough mass for gravity to trigger the nuclear reactions that make stars shine, but they're more massive than what's typically considered to be a planet."

Detected by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile, which was also used to measure its infrared spectrum and temperature, the dwarf is about 1/50 as warm as our sun. Astronomers found CFBDSIR's temperature to be about 212 degrees Fahrenheit, also the boiling point of water.

"We were very excited to see that this object had such a low temperature, but we couldn't have guessed that it would turn out to be a double system and have an even more interesting, even colder component," Philippe Delorme of the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, told Space.com.

"At such temperatures we expect the brown dwarf to have properties that are different from previously known brown dwarfs and much closer to those of giant exoplanets -- it could even have water clouds in its atmosphere," said Michael Liu of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. Liu is the lead author of a study about the dwarf star scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

View more Pictures of the Day.

Image: ESO/L.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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