Exoplanets & Exomoons

Signatures of Cloud, Temperature, and Gravity From Spectra of the Closest Brown Dwarfs

By Keith Cowing
June 8, 2014
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Signatures of Cloud, Temperature, and Gravity From Spectra of the Closest Brown Dwarfs

We present medium resolution optical and NIR spectral data for components of the newly discovered WISE J104915.57-531906.1AB (Luhman 16AB) brown dwarf binary.

The optical spectra reveal strong 6708 A Li I absorption in both Luhman 16A (8.0+/-0.4 A) and Luhman 16B (3.8+/-0.4 A). Interestingly, this is the first detection of Li I absorption in a T dwarf. Combined with the lack of surface gravity features, the Li I detection constrains the system age to 0.1 – 3 Gyr. In the NIR data, we find strong KI absorption at 1.168, 1.177, 1.243, and 1.254 {\mu}m in both components. Compared to the strength of KI line absorption in equivalent spectral subtype brown dwarfs, Luhman 16A is weaker while Luhman 16B is stronger.

Analyzing the spectral region around each doublet in distance scaled flux units and comparing the two sources, we confirm the J band flux reversal and find that Luhman 16B has a brighter continuum in the 1.17 {\mu}m and 1.25 {\mu}m regions than Luhman 16A. Converting flux units to a brightness temperature we interpret this to mean that the secondary is ~ 50 K warmer than the primary in regions dominated by condensate grain scattering. One plausible explanation for this difference is that Luhman 16B has thinner clouds or patchy holes in its atmosphere allowing us to see to deeper, hotter regions. We also detect comparably strong FeH in the 0.9896 {\mu}m Wing-Ford band for both components.

Traditionally, a signpost of changing atmosphere conditions from late-type L to early T dwarfs, the persistence and similarity of FeH at 0.9896 {\mu}m in both Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B is an indication of homogenous atmosphere conditions. We calculate bolometric luminosities from observed data supplemented with best fit models for longer wavelengths and find the components are consistent within 1{\sigma} with resultant Teffs of 1310+/-30 K and 1280+/-75 K for Luhman 16AB respectively.

Jacqueline K. Faherty, Yuri Beletsky, Adam J. Burgasser, Chris Tinney, David J. Osip, Joseph C. Filippazzo, Robert A. Simcoe (Submitted on 5 Jun 2014)

Comments: 17 pages, 11 figures, 4 tables. Submitted to ApJ and revised after referee report

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

Cite as: arXiv:1406.1518 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1406.1518v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)

Submission history From: Jacqueline Faherty [v1] Thu, 5 Jun 2014 20:41:39 GMT (594kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻