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April 28, 2014

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have found what appears to be a brown dwarf, or star-like object, that is as cold as the North Pole, just 7.2 light-years away from the sun.

The closest solar system to the sun is Alpha Centauri, about 4 light-years away.

"It is very exciting to discover a new neighbor of our solar system that is so close," Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University's Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, said in a statement. "And given its extreme temperature, it should tell us a lot about the atmosphere of planets, which often have similarly cold temperatures."

Brown dwarfs begin as collapsing balls of gas, just like any other star, but they do not have enough mass to sustain nuclear fusion. This new brown dwarf — named WISE J085510.83-071442.5 — was found after WISE surveyed the entire sky at least twice using infrared light (NASA says that cooler objects stand out in infrared light because it captures their thermal glow). It is between -54 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much colder than the other brown dwarfs discovered by WISE and Spitzer, thought to be around room temperature.

"It is remarkable that even after many decades of studying the sky, we still do not have a complete inventory of the sun's nearest neighbors," Michael Werner, Spitzer's project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, said in a statement. "This exciting new result demonstrates the power of exploring the universe using new tools, such as the infrared eyes of WISE and Spitzer." The animation below, courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Penn State, shows how the brown dwarf was spotted, thanks to its rapid motion across the sky. --Catherine Garcia

10:04 a.m. ET

It may have taken Adele a full week after Beyoncé's Lemonade was released to sing the visual album's praises, but she swears she's not late — the album had just left her "speechless." On Tuesday, however, the British songstress finally found her words:

Unsurprisingly, Adele — who has already proclaimed herself "Queen Bey to the day I die" — absolutely adored Beyoncé's latest record. If that caption isn't evidence enough of Adele's serious Beyoncé fandom, that photo of her literally bowing down next to Queen Bey should be. Becca Stanek

10:00 a.m. ET
Screenshot/Twitter/Lachlan

Following the news that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee, many Republicans who aren't ready to jump on the Trump train are casting about for other Election Day options.

After Ted Cruz dropped out of the race last night, Google Trends showed a sudden spike in searches for "Libertarian Party," suggesting that the 16 percent of Americans who say they'll vote third party in a Trump vs. Clinton contest are preparing to do just that.

Meanwhile, a number of prominent Republicans took to Twitter to announce their support for Hillary Clinton — or at least their exit from the GOP. Washington Examiner editor Philip Klein tweeted a picture of his voter registration change form, while Free Beacon writer Lachlan Markey shared a photo of his registration card in flames.

Former John McCain strategist Mark Salter declared that if "the GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it's on the level," he's with Clinton; and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum predicted that 2016 would see "Former Republican presidents & presidential nominees for Clinton." Bonnie Kristian

9:33 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There was a time when Marco Rubio didn't work hard to hide his hatred of being a U.S. senator, although "I don't know that 'hate' is the right word," he told The Washington Post last October. "I'm frustrated."

Oh, but how times have changed. For one, Rubio has dropped out of the presidential race. He is spending more time fishing and on his boat in Florida. He has decided against running for reelection, or for governor, or for really anything else before 2020.

Oh, and he kind of loves his job.

"Since I'm not running for reelection, there's a lot of things I want to get done. I'm actually enjoying it very much. It's kind of been the most enjoyable and productive I've been," Rubio told Politico.

While Rubio has stayed out of the spotlight in recent weeks by avoiding the garbage fire that is the current Republican race, he has been quietly getting work done on the Senate floor, including urging aid for Puerto Rico and breaking with party lines to back President Obama's call for $1.9 billion in federal funding to fight the Zika epidemic. Politico reports Rubio is also working to limit some U.S. benefits for Cuban immigrants, and he has as taken on a bigger role in protecting the Everglades.

"I feel positive about being able to get good results down the stretch. None of them are the kind of things that will dominate headlines. I'm honored to serve in the Senate. I've enjoyed my work there, despite the lack of progress in the process," Rubio said. Jeva Lange

9:20 a.m. ET

So, Donald Trump is probably going to be the Republican Party nominee for president. If that fact has you seriously Googling Canada's visa process, you might be onto something — there's some pretty cool stuff going on up in the Great White North. Last night, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry forced overtime in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat with this ridiculous half-court heave:

Of course, the Raptors went cold in OT and lost to the Heat, at home, 102-96. But hey, you're heading to Canada now — you can't be rude to your guests. The Raptors will try, though, when they host the Heat again at the Air Canada Centre for Game 2 on Thursday. Kimberly Alters

8:43 a.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump says he plans to tap a politician to serve as his vice president. "Somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody that can help me get things passed and somebody that's been friends with the senators and congressmen and all so we don’t have to go the executive order route as much as Obama did, you know, where he can't get anything approved so he just keeps signing executive orders," Trump said in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday morning, the day after he all but sealed the GOP nomination with his win in the Indiana primary.

But Trump isn't ready to name names. "Well, it's too soon. I just don't want to do it," Trump said. "I think that, you know, a lot of people are talking about certain names, and certainly those are the names we are thinking of." The five potential running mates The Washington Post and others have floated recently are Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Watch Trump's full interview below, with his vice presidential remarks starting at the 16:05 mark. Becca Stanek

8:23 a.m. ET

When saying goodbye to Ted Cruz's presidential aspirations last night, the nation was also unwittingly bidding adieu to a young president. With the 45-year-old out of the race, electing any of the remaining candidates will be putting the oldest (or nearly the oldest) president ever into office:

It might be pointed out that John Kasich, who is still in the race, is a relative picture of youth at 63. However, his odds of assuming office are not good. Jeva Lange

8:16 a.m. ET
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

What happened in Paris and Brussels could possibly happen in the U.S., Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted in an exclusive interview with CNN, published Wednesday. "They do have that capacity," Clapper said of ISIS. "That's something we worry about a lot in the United States, that they could conjure up a raid like they did in Paris or Brussels." The March attacks in Brussels on a train and at an airport left at least 32 dead and 300 injured; the November attacks in Paris killed at least 130.

However, Obama pointed out, "We, here in the United States, face less of a threat than Europe" from ISIS. Still, he says, "the Paris-style attack, the Brussels style attack is the challenge that we're going to continue to face." Becca Stanek

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