The skies over parts of Northern Chile, especially in Elqui Valley and the Atacama Desert, are extremely clear and ideal for astronomical observations. The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) is located in the latter location, on Cerro Paranal. Here, a brown dwarf star with a surface temperature of around 100 degrees Celcius was discovered. Now, with further investigation by the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope (CFHT) on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawai’i, this brown dwarf could be the coldest star yet discovered.
The star, called CFBDSIR 1458+10B, is only 75 light years from Earth, and is an important discovery because a star this cold blurs the lines between small star and large planets similar to Jupiter. It is expected to have properties that are different from other brown dwarf stars, and one of the authors of the study, Michael Liu, has hypothesized that the star has clouds containing water.