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Title: THE FIRST SPECTRUM OF THE COLDEST BROWN DWARF

Abstract

The recently discovered brown dwarf WISE 0855 presents the first opportunity to directly study an object outside the solar system that is nearly as cold as our own gas giant planets. However, the traditional methodology for characterizing brown dwarfs—near-infrared spectroscopy—is not currently feasible, as WISE 0855 is too cold and faint. To characterize this frozen extrasolar world we obtained a 4.5–5.2 μ m spectrum, the same bandpass long used to study Jupiter’s deep thermal emission. Our spectrum reveals the presence of atmospheric water vapor and clouds, with an absorption profile that is strikingly similar to Jupiter’s. The spectrum quality is high enough to allow for the investigation of dynamical and chemical processes that have long been studied in Jupiter’s atmosphere, but now on an extrasolar world.

Authors:
; ;  [1];  [2];  [3]; ;  [4];  [5];  [6]
  1. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
  2. Bucknell University, 701 Moore Avenue, Lewisburg, PA 17837 (United States)
  3. Gemini Observatory, 670 North A’ohoku Place, Hilo, HI 96720 (United States)
  4. NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 (United States)
  5. Carnegie Institute for Science, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, 5241 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015 (United States)
  6. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22654265
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 826; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABSORPTION; ABSORPTION SPECTROSCOPY; ATMOSPHERES; DWARF STARS; EARTH PLANET; EMISSION; GLOBAL ASPECTS; INFRARED SPECTRA; JUPITER PLANET; SOLAR SYSTEM; WATER; WATER VAPOR

Citation Formats

Skemer, Andrew J., Morley, Caroline V., Fortney, Jonathan J., Allers, Katelyn N., Geballe, Thomas R., Marley, Mark S., Lupu, Roxana, Faherty, Jacqueline K., and Bjoraker, Gordon L. THE FIRST SPECTRUM OF THE COLDEST BROWN DWARF. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/826/2/L17.
Skemer, Andrew J., Morley, Caroline V., Fortney, Jonathan J., Allers, Katelyn N., Geballe, Thomas R., Marley, Mark S., Lupu, Roxana, Faherty, Jacqueline K., & Bjoraker, Gordon L. THE FIRST SPECTRUM OF THE COLDEST BROWN DWARF. United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/826/2/L17.
Skemer, Andrew J., Morley, Caroline V., Fortney, Jonathan J., Allers, Katelyn N., Geballe, Thomas R., Marley, Mark S., Lupu, Roxana, Faherty, Jacqueline K., and Bjoraker, Gordon L. 2016. "THE FIRST SPECTRUM OF THE COLDEST BROWN DWARF". United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/826/2/L17.
@article{osti_22654265,
title = {THE FIRST SPECTRUM OF THE COLDEST BROWN DWARF},
author = {Skemer, Andrew J. and Morley, Caroline V. and Fortney, Jonathan J. and Allers, Katelyn N. and Geballe, Thomas R. and Marley, Mark S. and Lupu, Roxana and Faherty, Jacqueline K. and Bjoraker, Gordon L.},
abstractNote = {The recently discovered brown dwarf WISE 0855 presents the first opportunity to directly study an object outside the solar system that is nearly as cold as our own gas giant planets. However, the traditional methodology for characterizing brown dwarfs—near-infrared spectroscopy—is not currently feasible, as WISE 0855 is too cold and faint. To characterize this frozen extrasolar world we obtained a 4.5–5.2 μ m spectrum, the same bandpass long used to study Jupiter’s deep thermal emission. Our spectrum reveals the presence of atmospheric water vapor and clouds, with an absorption profile that is strikingly similar to Jupiter’s. The spectrum quality is high enough to allow for the investigation of dynamical and chemical processes that have long been studied in Jupiter’s atmosphere, but now on an extrasolar world.},
doi = {10.3847/2041-8205/826/2/L17},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal Letters},
number = 2,
volume = 826,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 8
}
  • We have monitored the position of the cool Y dwarf WISEPA J182831.08+265037.8 using a combination of ground- and space-based telescopes and have determined its distance to be 11.2{sup +1.3} {sub -1.0} pc. Its absolute H magnitude, M{sub H} = 22.21{sup +0.25} {sub -0.22} mag, suggests a mass in the range 0.5-20 M {sub Jup} for ages of 0.1-10 Gyr with an effective temperature in the range 250-400 K. The broad range in mass is due primarily to the unknown age of the object. Since the high tangential velocity of the object, 51 {+-} 5 km s{sup -1}, is characteristic ofmore » an old disk population, a plausible age range of 2-4 Gyr leads to a mass range of 3-6 M {sub Jup} based on fits to the (highly uncertain) COND evolutionary models. The range in temperature is due to the fact that no single model adequately represents the 1-5 {mu}m spectral energy distribution (SED) of the source, failing by factors of up to five at either the short or long wavelength portions of the SED. The appearance of this very cold object may be affected by non-equilibrium chemistry or low temperature condensates forming clouds, two atmospheric processes that are known to be important in brown dwarf atmospheres but have proven difficult to model. Finally, we argue that there would have to be a very steep upturn in the number density of late-type Y-dwarfs to account for the putative population of objects suggested by recent microlensing observations. Whether WISE 1828+2650 sits at the low-mass end of the brown dwarf population or is the first example of a large number of 'free-floating' planets is not yet known.« less
  • 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{sub −0.35}{sup +0.53} (J {sub MKO} = 25.0{sub −0.35}{sup +0.53}) at 2.6σ—or equivalently an upper limit of J3 > 23.8 (J {sub MKO} > 24.0) at 5σ makes W0855 the reddest brown dwarf ever categorized (J {sub MKO} – W2 = 10.984{sub −0.35}{sup +0.53} at 2.6σ—or equivalently an upper limit of J {sub MKO} – W2 > 9.984 at 5σ) and refines its position on color-magnitude diagrams. Comparing the new photometry with chemical equilibrium model atmospheremore » predictions, we demonstrate that W0855 is 2.7σ 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.« less
  • WISE J085510.83–071442.5 was recently discovered as the coldest known brown dwarf based on four epochs of images from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the Spitzer Space Telescope. We have improved the accuracy of its parallax measurement by obtaining two additional epochs of Spitzer astrometry. We derive a parallactic distance of 2.31 ± 0.08 pc, which continues to support its rank as the fourth closest known system to the Sun when compared to WISE J104915.57–531906.1 AB (2.02 ± 0.02 pc) and Wolf 359 (2.386 ± 0.012 pc). The new constraint on the absolute magnitude at 4.5 μm indicates an effectivemore » temperature of 235-260 K based on four sets of theoretical models. We also show the updated positions of WISE J085510.83–071442.5 in two color-magnitude diagrams. Whereas Faherty and coworkers cited its location in M {sub W2} versus J – W2 as evidence of water clouds, we find that those data can be explained instead by cloudless models that employ non-equilibrium chemistry.« less
  • Condensate clouds are a salient feature of L dwarf atmospheres, but have been assumed to play little role in shaping the spectra of the coldest T-type brown dwarfs. Here we report evidence of condensate opacity in the near-infrared spectrum of the brown dwarf candidate Ross 458C, obtained with the Folded-Port Infrared Echellette (FIRE) spectrograph at the Magellan Telescopes. These data verify the low-temperature nature of this source, indicating a T8 spectral classification, log{sub 10} L{sub bol}/L{sub sun} = -5.62 {+-} 0.03, T{sub eff} = 650 {+-} 25 K, and a mass at or below the deuterium burning limit. The datamore » also reveal enhanced emission at the K band associated with youth (low surface gravity) and supersolar metallicity, reflecting the properties of the Ross 458 system (age = 150-800 Myr, [Fe/H] = +0.2 to +0.3). We present fits of FIRE data for Ross 458C, the T9 dwarf ULAS J133553.45+113005.2, and the blue T7.5 dwarf SDSS J141624.08+134826.7B, to cloudless and cloudy spectral models from Saumon and Marley. For Ross 458C, we confirm a low surface gravity and supersolar metallicity, while the temperature differs depending on the presence (635{sup +25}{sub -35} K) or absence (760{sup +70}{sub -45} K) of cloud extinction. ULAS J1335+1130 and SDSS J1416+1348B have similar temperatures (595{sup +25}{sub -45} K), but distinct surface gravities (log g = 4.0-4.5 cgs versus 5.0-5.5 cgs) and metallicities ([M/H] {approx} +0.2 versus -0.2). In all three cases, cloudy models provide better fits to the spectral data, significantly so for Ross 458C. These results indicate that clouds are an important opacity source in the spectra of young cold T dwarfs and should be considered when characterizing planetary-mass objects in young clusters and directly imaged exoplanets. The characteristics of Ross 458C suggest that it could itself be regarded as a planet, albeit one whose cosmogony does not conform with current planet formation theories.« less
  • Using two epochs of 4.5 {mu}m images from the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on board the Spitzer Space Telescope, we recently identified a common proper motion companion to the white dwarf WD 0806-661 that is a candidate for the coldest known brown dwarf. To verify its cool nature, we have obtained images of this object at 3.6 {mu}m with IRAC, at J with the High Acuity Wide-field K-band Imager (HAWK-I) on the Very Large Telescope, and in a filter covering the red half of J with FourStar on Magellan. WD 0806-661 B is detected by IRAC but not HAWK-I ormore » FourStar. From these data we measure colors of [3.6] - [4.5] = 2.77 {+-} 0.16 and J - [4.5] > 7.0 (S/N < 3). Based on these colors and its absolute magnitudes, WD 0806-661 B is the coldest companion directly imaged outside of the solar system and is a contender for the coldest known brown dwarf with the Y dwarf WISEP J1828+2650. It is unclear which of these two objects is colder given the available data. A comparison of its absolute magnitude at 4.5 {mu}m to the predictions of theoretical spectra and evolutionary models suggests that WD 0806-661 B has T{sub eff} = 300-345 K.« less