The Dusty Atmosphere of the Brown Dwarf Gliese 229B

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Science  11 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5396, pp. 2063-2067
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5396.2063

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The brown dwarf Gliese 229B has an observable atmosphere too warm to contain ice clouds like those on Jupiter and too cool to contain silicate clouds like those on low-mass stars. These unique conditions permit visibility to higher pressures than possible in cool stars or planets. Gliese 229B's 0.85- to 1.0-micrometer spectrum indicates particulates deep in the atmosphere (10 to 50 bars) having optical properties of neither ice nor silicates. Their reddish color suggests an organic composition characteristic of aerosols in planetary stratospheres. The particles' mass fraction (10−7) agrees with a photochemical origin caused by incident radiation from the primary star and suggests the occurrence of processes native to planetary stratospheres.

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