Near-Infrared Spectroscopy of 2M0441+2301 AabBab: A Quadruple System Spanning the Stellar to Planetary Mass Regimes
Bowler et al
We present Keck/NIRC2 and OSIRIS near-infrared imaging and spectroscopy of 2M0441+2301 AabBab, a young (1--3 Myr) hierarchical quadruple system comprising a low-mass star, two brown dwarfs, and a planetary-mass companion in Taurus. All four components show spectroscopic signs of low surface gravity, and both 2M0441+2301 Aa and Ab possess Paβ emission indicating they each harbor accretion subdisks. Astrometry spanning 2008--2014 reveals orbital motion in both the Aab (0.23" separation) and Bab (0.095" separation) pairs, although the implied orbital periods of >300 years means dynamical masses will not be possible in the near future. The faintest component (2M0441+2301 Bb) has an angular H-band shape, strong molecular absorption (VO, CO, H2O, and FeH), and shallow alkali lines, confirming its young age, late spectral type (L1 ± 1), and low temperature (≈1800~K). With individual masses of 200+100−50 Mjup, 35 ± 5 Mjup, 19 ± 3 Mjup, and 9.8 ± 1.8 Mjup, 2M0441+2301 AabBab is the lowest-mass quadruple system known. Its hierarchical orbital architecture and mass ratios imply that it formed from the collapse and fragmentation of a molecular cloud core, demonstrating that planetary-mass companions can originate from a stellar-like pathway analogous to higher-mass quadruple star systems. More generally, cloud fragmentation may be an important formation pathway for the massive exoplanets that are now regularly being imaged on wide orbits.