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Brown dwarfs as Galactic chronometers

  • Adam J. Burgasser (a1)

Abstract

Brown dwarfs are natural clocks, cooling and dimming over time due to insufficient core fusion. They are also numerous and present in nearly all Galactic environments, making them potentially useful chronometers for a variety of Galactic studies. For this potential to be realized, however, precise and accurate ages for individual sources are required, a prospect made difficult by the complex atmospheres and spectra of low-temperature brown dwarfs; degeneracy between mass, age and luminosity; and the lack of useful age trends in magnetic activity and rotation. In this contribution, I review five ways in which ages for brown dwarfs are uniquely determined, discuss their applicability and limitations, and give current empirical precisions.

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