Search for very low-mass brown dwarfs and free-floating planetary-mass objects in taurus

Sascha P. Quanz, Bertrand Goldman, Thomas Henning, Wolfgang Brandner, Adam S. Burrows, Lorne W. Hofstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The number of low-mass brown dwarfs and even free floating planetary-mass objects in young nearby star-forming (SF) regions and associations is continuously increasing, offering the possibility to study the low-mass end of the initial mass function in greater detail. In this paper, we present six new candidates for (very) low-mass objects in the Taurus SF region one of which was recently discovered in parallel by Luhman etal. The underlying data we use is part of a new database from a deep near-infrared survey at the Calar Alto observatory. The survey is more than 4mag deeper than the Two Micron All Sky Survey and covers currently ∼1.5 deg2. Complementary optical photometry from Sloan Digital Sky Survey were available for roughly 1.0 deg 2. After selection of the candidates using different color indices, additional photometry from Spitzer/IRAC was included in the analysis. In greater detail, we focus on two very faint objects for which we obtained J-band spectra. Based on comparison with reference spectra, we derive a spectral type of L2±0.5 for one object, making it the object with the latest spectral type in Taurus known today. From models, we find the effective temperature to be 2080±140 K and the mass 5-15 Jupiter masses. For the second source, the J-band spectrum does not provide definite proof of the young, low-mass nature of the object, as the expected steep water vapor absorption at 1.33 μm is not present in the data. We discuss the probability that this object might be a background giant or carbon star. If it were a young Taurus member, however, a comparison to theoretical models suggests that it lies close to or even below the deuterium burning limit (<13 M Jup) as well. A first proper motion analysis for both objects shows that they are good candidates for being Taurus members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-784
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Stars: formation stars: late-type stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs stars: pre-main sequence


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