The search for planetary mass companions to field brown dwarfs with HST/NICMOS.
STUMPF M.B., BRANDNER W., JOERGENS V., HENNING Th., BOUY H., KOHLER R. and KASPER M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present the results of a high-resolution spectral differential imaging survey of 12 nearby, relatively young field L dwarfs (≤ 1 Gyr) carried out with the Hubble Space Telescope/NICMOS to search for planetary mass companions at small physical separations from their host. The survey resolved two brown dwarf binaries: the L dwarf system Kelu-1 AB and the newly discovered L/T transition system 2MASS 031059+164815 AB. For both systems, common proper motion has already been confirmed in follow-up observations which have been published elsewhere. The derived separations of the binaries are smaller than 6 AU and consistent with previous brown dwarf binary statistics. Their mass ratios of q ≥ 0.8 confirm the preference for equal-mass systems similar to a large number of other surveys. Furthermore, we found tentative evidence for a companion to the L4 dwarf 2MASSW 033703-175807, straddling the brown dwarf/planetary mass boundary and revealing an uncommonly low-mass ratio system (q ~ 0.2) compared to the vast majority of previously found brown dwarf binaries. With a derived minimum mass of 10-15 MJup a planetary nature of the secondary cannot be ruled out yet. However, it seems more likely to be a very low mass brown dwarf secondary at the border of the spectral T/Y transition regime, primarily due to its similarities to recently found very cool T dwarfs. This would make it one of the closest resolved brown dwarf binaries (0".087±0".015, corresponding to 2.52±0.44 AU at a distance of 29 pc) with the coolest (Teff~ 600-630 K) and least massive companion to any L or T dwarf.
brown dwarfs - planetary systems - stars: individual: 2MASSW033703-175807 - stars: low-mass - techniques: high angular resolution