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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

5:01 p.m. ET
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages

For months, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been promoting a very specific and outlandish strategy to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. As president, he says often, he'd simply build a wall along the entire Mexican-American border. It would be funded by the Mexican government, Trump claims.

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón doesn't think his country would be down with that plan, CNBC reports.

"Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall," he said. "And it's going to be completely useless."

Calderón suggested a wall wouldn't help the U.S., serving instead to hinder the country's trading. It's an idea, he said, that came from a "not very well-informed man." Julie Kliegman

4:11 p.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

After reports surfaced in January that Michael Bloomberg was considering an independent presidential run, the former New York City mayor confirmed the possibility himself to the Financial Times on Monday.

"I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," Bloomberg said, adding that the public deserves "a lot better."

Bloomberg, who The New York Times reported would sink up to $1 billion of his own money into a campaign, told FT he'd need to start getting his name on ballots in March.

"I'm listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing," he said. Julie Kliegman

3:51 p.m. ET
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

There is trouble in Hillaryland: According to anonymous sources who spoke with Politico, Hillary Clinton is frustrated with her campaign staff — and vice versa. With the too-close-for-comfort win over Bernie Sanders in Iowa and a New Hampshire victory for the Vermont senator on the horizon, Clinton is reportedly looking to reassess the staff at her Brooklyn headquarters sooner rather than later.

One source who is close with both Hillary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said, "The Clintons are not happy, and have been letting all of us know that. The idea is that we need a more forward-looking message, for the primary — but also for the general election too… There's no sense of panic, but there is an urgency to fix these problems right now."

There is dissatisfaction among Clinton's staffers, too:

Over the summer while her campaign was bogged down in the email controversy, Clinton was deeply frustrated with her own staff, and vice versa. The candidate blamed her team for not getting her out of the mess quickly, and her team blamed Clinton for being stubbornly unwilling to take the advice of campaign chairman John Podesta and others to apologize, turn over her server, and move on. The entire experience made her a deeply vulnerable frontrunner out of the gate, and underscored a lack of trust between Clinton and her operatives, many of whom were former Obama staffers that she didn't consider part of her inner circle of trust.

Her advisers were also frustrated by having to play roles they hadn't been hired for and were ill-suited for. From the beginning, [the campaign's top pollster and strategist Joel] Benenson was frustrated that he was forced to split his time between defending his boss on emails and defining a path for her candidacy. Clinton, meanwhile, longed for a chief strategist in the Mark Penn mold who could take on a more expansive role than playing pollster. [Politico]

Read the full story in Politico. Jeva Lange

3:47 p.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Canada will stop its airstrikes on the Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq by Feb. 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.

"As I said many times throughout the campaign in my commitment to Canadians, this is a non-combat mission," he said.

Trudeau, who took office in November, added that airstrikes don't help local communities attain long-term stability. Instead, he'll up military personnel in the region and train more local forces, The Washington Post reports.

The Pentagon has said it respects Trudeau's decision to halt strikes, but did not invite Canada's defense minister to recent meetings the U.S.-led coalition held in Paris. Julie Kliegman

3:25 p.m. ET

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush showed off his throwing arm by lobbing a snowball at NBC reporter Jordan J. Frasier. Only, there wasn't much to show off.

"You can't do anything about it!" Bush taunted the reporter, whose hands were full managing the camera. Bush seemed to think about it for a second and added, "That's not fair, actually." Frasier, laughing, didn't seem to mind — and he caught the whole thing on film. Watch below. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

An average audience of 111.9 million viewers tuned into CBS for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, making the program the third most-watched in TV history, Variety reports. The matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers trailed the 2015 and 2014 Super Bowls, which had 114.4 million viewers on NBC and 112.2 million viewers on Fox, respectively.

Viewership peaked at 115.5 million viewers Sunday between 8:30 and 9 p.m. ET, when Beyoncé and Bruno Mars joined Coldplay for the halftime show. Julie Kliegman

2:55 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump has captured a wide lead in New Hampshire ahead of the Tuesday primary, where voting begins as early as midnight. According to a University of Massachusetts Lowell/WHDH poll released Monday, Trump holds the support of 34 percent of likely Republican voters in the Granite State, followed by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13 percent apiece, and Jeb Bush and John Kasich with 10 percent each. Among Democrats, Bernie Sanders has a strong 56-40 lead over Hillary Clinton. However, New Hampshire is famously a "late-breaking" state with many undecided voters, and polls are typically subject to scrutiny.

Pollsters surveyed 407 likely Democrats with an adjusted margin of error of +/-5.52 percent and 464 likely Republican voters with an adjusted margin of error of +/-2.99 percent; voters were interviewed between Friday and Sunday. See the full results here. Jeva Lange

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