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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

6:50 p.m. ET

Super Bowl 50 started off with a bang, as Lady Gaga sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. In an earlier interview with the NFL Network, the pop star said performing at the Super Bowl was an "honor" and "a total dream come true." Catherine Garcia

6:37 p.m. ET
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Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are facing off against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, and those who don't have access to a television can still watch every minute of the game during the livestream on CBSSports.com.

2:19 p.m. ET

Larry David and Bernie Sanders appeared alongside each other on Saturday Night Live, but the real highlight of the night didn't involve Sanders at all. In this pre-taped sketch, watch David play a cranky, neurotic Sanders in the cleverly titled "Bern Your Enthusiasm." Julie Kliegman

1:48 p.m. ET
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The United Nations Security Council condemned North Korea on Sunday for defying international warnings in launching a long-range rocket that many believe is a cover for a test of a ballistic missile that could reach the United States mainland.

All 15 Security Council members approved a statement at an emergency meeting emphasizing that using ballistic missile technology violates four resolutions, The Associated Press reports. The group also vowed to adopt a new resolution soon with "significant" sanctions for North Korea. Julie Kliegman

1:18 p.m. ET
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In a Monmouth University poll released Sunday, Donald Trump leads the Republican field with 30 percent of the support from likely New Hampshire primary voters. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are tied for 13 percent, with Ted Cruz notching 12 percent.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton, 52 percent to 42 percent.

The poll's margin of error is 4.4 percentage points. On Tuesday, New Hampshire will be the second state to vote in the primaries. Julie Kliegman

12:28 p.m. ET
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Bernie Sanders distanced himself Sunday from "Berniebros," a wide-ranging term that some have used to describe sexist supporters of the Vermont senator.

"It's disgusting," he said on CNN's State of the Union. "We don't want that crap. Anybody who is supporting me and doing sexist things, we don't want them. I don't want them. That's not what this campaign is about."

See more of Sanders' interview here. Julie Kliegman

11:45 a.m. ET

Saturday night's Republican presidential debate featured a lot of heated conflict — once all of the candidates finally made it out on stage. Watch The Washington Post break down just how delightfully awkward the whole introduction process was. Julie Kliegman

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