CALTECH GE 133 - The Formation of Brown Dwarfs: Observations (16 pages)

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The Formation of Brown Dwarfs: Observations



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The Formation of Brown Dwarfs: Observations

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Pages:
16
School:
California Institute of Technology
Course:
Ge 133 - The Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems
The Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems Documents

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The Formation of Brown Dwarfs Observations Kevin L Luhman The Pennsylvania State University Viki Joergens The University of Leiden Charles Lada Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory James Muzerolle and Ilaria Pascucci The University of Arizona Russel White The University of Alabama We review the current state of observational work on the formation of brown dwarfs focusing on their initial mass function velocity and spatial distributions at birth multiplicity accretion and circumstellar disks The available measurements of these various properties are consistent with a common formation mechanism for brown dwarfs and stars In particular the existence of widely separated binary brown dwarfs and a probable isolated proto brown dwarf indicate that some substellar objects are able to form in the same manner as stars through unperturbed cloud fragmentation Additional mechanisms such as ejection and photoevaporation may play a role in the birth of some brown dwarfs but there is no observational evidence to date to suggest that they are the key elements that make it possible for substellar bodies to form 1 INTRODUCTION et al 2002 or photoevaporation by ionizing radiation from massive stars Kroupa and Bouvier 2003 Whitworth and Zinnecker 2004 This uncertainty surrounding the formation of brown dwarfs has motivated a great deal of theoretical and observational work over the last decade In this paper we review the current observational constraints on the formation process of brown dwarfs BDs which complements the theoretical review of this topic provided in the chapter by Whitworth et al By the nature of the topic of this review we focus on observations of BDs at young ages 10 Myr although we also consider properties of evolved BDs that provide insight into BD formation e g multiplicity A convenient characteristic of young BDs is their relatively bright luminosities and warm temperatures compared to their older counterparts in the solar neighborhood making them easier to observe



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