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Title: Mid-infrared followup of cold brown dwarfs: diversity in age, mass and metallicity

We present new Spitzer IRAC [3.6], [4.5], [5.8] and [8.0] photometry of nine very late-type T dwarfs. Combining this with previously published photometry, we investigate trends with type and color that are useful for both the planning and interpretation of infrared surveys designed to discover the coldest T or Y dwarfs. Brown dwarfs with effective temperature (T{sub eff}) below 700 K emit more than half their flux at wavelengths longer than 3 {micro}m, and the ratio of the mid-infrared flux to the near-infrared flux becomes very sensitive to T{sub eff} at these low temperatures. We confirm that the color H (1.6 {micro}m) - [4.5] is a good indicator of T{sub eff} with a relatively weak dependence on metallicity and gravity. Conversely, the colors H - K (2.2 {micro}m) and [4.5] - [5.8] are sensitive to metallicity and gravity. Thus near- and mid-infrared photometry provide useful indicators of the fundamental properties of brown dwarfs, and if temperature and gravity are known, then mass and age can be reliably determined from evolutionary models. There are twelve dwarfs currently known with H - [4.5] > 3.0, and {approx} 500 < T{sub eff} K {approx}< 800, which we examine in detail. The ages of more » the dwarfs in the sample range from very young (0.1 - 1.0 Gyr) to relatively old (3 - 12 Gyr). The mass range is possibly as low as 5 Jupiter masses to up to 70 Jupiter masses, i.e. near the hydrogen burning limit. The metallicities also span a large range, from [m/H]= -0.3 to [m/H]= +0.2. The small number of T8 - T9 dwarfs found in the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey to date appear to be predominantly young low-mass dwarfs. Accurate mid-infrared photometry of cold brown dwarfs is essentially impossible from the ground, and extensions to the mid-infrared space missions warm-Spitzer and WISE are desirable in order to obtain the vital mid-infrared data for cold brown dwarfs, and to discover more of these rare objects. « less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-09-06656; LA-UR-09-6656
TRN: US1001680
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: The Astrophysical Journal
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States