Indications of Water Clouds in the Coldest Known Brown Dwarf

We present a deep near-infrared image of the newly discovered brown dwarf WISE J085510.83-071442.5 (W0855) using the FourStar imager at Las Campanas Observatory.

Our detection of J3=24.8+0.33 -0.53 (J_MKO=25.0+0.33-0.53) at 2.6sigma -- or equivalently an upper limit of J3 > 23.8 (J_MKO > 24.0) at 5sigma makes W0855 the reddest brown dwarf ever categorized (J_MKO - W2 = 10.984+0.33 - 0.53 at 2.6sigma -- or equivalently an upper limit of J_MKO - W2 > 9.984 at 5sigma) and refines its position on color magnitude diagrams.

Comparing the new photometry with chemical equilibrium model atmosphere predictions, we demonstrate that W0855 is 4.5sigma from models using a cloudless atmosphere and well reproduced by partly cloudy models (50%) containing sulfide and water ice clouds. Non-equilibrium chemistry or non-solar metallicity may change predictions, however using currently available model approaches, this is the first candidate outside our own solar system to have direct evidence for water clouds.

Jacqueline K. Faherty, C.G. Tinney, Andrew Skemer, Andrew J. Monson (Submitted on 20 Aug 2014)

Comments: Accepted for publication in ApJ Letters. Eight pages, 3 Figures

Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)

Cite as: arXiv:1408.4671 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1408.4671v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version) Submission history

From: Jacqueline Faherty [v1] Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:25:09 GMT (745kb)

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