Friday, November 3, 2017

Characterizing The Cloud Decks of Luhman 16AB

Characterizing The Cloud Decks of Luhman 16AB with Medium-Resolution Spectroscopic Monitoring 

Kellogg et al

We present results from a two-night R~4000 0.9-2.5 micron spectroscopic monitoring campaign of Luhman 16AB (L7.5 + T0.5). We assess the variability amplitude as a function of pressure level in the atmosphere of Luhman 16B: the more variable of the two components. The amplitude decreases monotonically with decreasing pressure, indicating that the source of variability - most likely patchy clouds - lies in the lower atmosphere. An unexpected result is that the strength of the K I absorption is higher in the faint state of Luhman 16B and lower in the bright state. We conclude that either the abundance of K I increases when the clouds roll in, potentially because of additional K I in the cloud itself, or that the temperature-pressure profile changes. We reproduce the change in K I absorption strengths with combinations of spectral templates to represent the bright and the faint variability states. These are dominated by a warmer L8 or L9 component, with a smaller contribution from a cooler T1 or T2 component. The success of this approach argues that the mechanism responsible for brown dwarf variability is also behind the diverse spectral morphology across the L-to-T transition. We further suggest that the L9-T1 part of the sequence represents a narrow but random ordering of effective temperatures and cloud fractions, obscured by the monotonic progression in methane absorption strength.

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