The First Spectrum of the Coldest Brown Dwarf
Skemer et al
The recently discovered brown dwarf WISE 0855 presents our first opportunity to directly study an object outside the Solar System that is nearly as cold as our own gas giant planets. However the traditional methodology for characterizing brown dwarfs---near infrared spectroscopy---is not currently feasible as WISE 0855 is too cold and faint. To characterize this frozen extrasolar world we obtained a 4.5-5.2 μm spectrum, the same bandpass long used to study Jupiter's deep thermal emission. Our spectrum reveals the presence of atmospheric water vapor and clouds, with an absorption profile that is strikingly similar to Jupiter. The spectrum is high enough quality to allow the investigation of dynamical and chemical processes that have long been studied in Jupiter's atmosphere, but now on an extrasolar world.