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Low-gravity L Dwarfs Are Likely More Variable

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2016

Stanimir Metchev
The University of Western Ontario, Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, Canada email: ( Stony Brook University, USA
Aren Heinze
Stony Brook University, USA
Daniel Apai
The University of Arizona, USA
Davin Flateau
The University of Arizona, USA
Jacqueline Radigan
Space Telescope Science Institute, USA
Adam Burgasser
University of California San Diego, Center for Astrophysics and Space Science, USA
Mark Marley
NASA Ames Research Center, USA
Étienne Artigau
Université de Montréal, Canada
Peter Plavchan
Missouri State University, USA
Bertrand Goldman
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany
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In the “Weather on Other Worlds” Spitzer Exploration Science program, we surveyed 44 nearby L3–T8 dwarfs for spot-induced rotational variability. Among single L3–L9.5 dwarfs, we found that 80% are variable at >0.2% in the 3–5 μm wavelength range, while 36% of T0–T8 were variable at >0.4%. Taking into account viewing angle and sensitivity considerations, both of these findings are consistent with spots being present on ~100% of L3–T8 dwarfs. Intriguingly, we find a tentative association (92% confidence) between low surface gravity and high-amplitude variability among L3–L5.5 dwarfs. Although we can not confirm whether lower gravity is also correlated with a higher incidence of variables, the result is promising for the characterization of directly imaged young extrasolar planets through variability.

Contributed Papers
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2016 


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