"An ancient star a mere thousand light-years from Earth bears chemical elements that may have been forged by the death of a star that was both extremely massive and one of the first to arise after the big bang. If confirmed, the finding means that some of the universe’s first stars were so massive they died in exceptionally violent explosions that altered the growth of early galaxies."
"It’s tentative," he says, but "it’s the first evidence for water clouds" outside our solar system. Even within the solar system, observers can see water clouds on only Earth and Mars; the giant planets are so cold that ammonia ice clouds cover the water clouds on Jupiter and Saturn while the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune block the view there.
Observers have previously discerned water vapor in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, but Fortney says water clouds are a new phenomenon. “One of the things we don’t really know is how common partly cloudiness is,” he says. Venus, whose clouds consist of sulfuric acid, is totally cloudy, whereas Earth is partly cloudy. Faherty says the brown dwarf is also partly cloudy: About half is obscured by clouds.
Verifying the discovery will require spectra. Because the object is so dim, this will likely await the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched later this decade.
“Welcome to Barrayar, son. Here you go: have a world of wealth and poverty, wrenching change and rooted history. Have a birth; have two. Have a name. Miles means “soldier,” but don’t let the power of suggestion overwhelm you. Have a twisted form in a society that loathes and fears the mutations that have been its deepest agony. Have a title, wealth, power, and all the hatred and envy they will draw. Have your body ripped apart and re-arranged. Inherit an array of friends and enemies you never made. Have a grandfather from hell. Endure pain, find joy, and make your own meaning, because the universe certainly isn’t going to supply it. Always be a moving target. Live. Live. Live.”—Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold (via an-animal-imagined-by-poe)