Sandy clouds were detected in weird, gassy objects called the brown dwarfs, which lie between the size of a planet and a star. As these oddball objects possess no solid surface, it’s a mystery to scientists how the sand grains reached so high in their planets’ atmospheres despite suspicions of observed silicates for at least the past decade.
“However, new modeling established on archival data from the retired Spitzer Space Telescope mission, indicates that conditions needed for high-altitude sandy clouds can occur in a certain temperature and chemistry range. The implications are supposed to be useful for scientists trying to make sense of the range of exoplanet atmospheres existing in our universe, “officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California reported in a statement made on July 7th.
Spitzer, which JPL oversaw, obtained data that suggests the presence of silicate clouds in some of the brown dwarfs during the first six years of its mission, between 2003 and 2009, at the time its infrared vision benefited cryogenically cooled instruments. Ultra-cool circumstances are needed to seek out infrared light in many wavelengths. Spitzer’s prime mission concluded in 2009 after the telescope ran out of the liquid helium coolant necessary for two of its three instruments. The observatory will shut down permanently in 2020.