The discovery of a field methane dwarf from sloan digital sky survey commissioning data

Michael A. Strauss, Xiaohui Fan, James E. Gunn, S. K. Leggett, T. R. Geballe, Jeffrey R. Pier, Robert H. Lupton, G. R. Knapp, James Annis, J. Brinkmann, J. H. Crocker, Istv́n Csabai, Masataka Fukugita, David A. Golimowski, Frederick H. Harris, G. S. Hennessy, Robert B. Hindsley, Željko Ivezić, Stephen Kent, D. Q. LambJeffrey A. Munn, Heidi Jo Newberg, Ron Rechenmacher, Donald P. Schneider, J. Allyn Smith, Chris Stoughton, Douglas L. Tucker, Patrick Waddell, Donald G. York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of the coolest field dwarf yet known, selected as an unresolved object with extremely red colors from commissioning imaging data of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Its spectrum from 0.8 to 2.5 μm is dominated by strong bands of H2O and CH4. Its spectrum and colors over this range are very similar to those of Gl 229B. the only other known example of a methane dwarf. It is roughly 1.2 mag fainter than Gl 229B, suggesting that it lies at a distance of ∼10 pc. Such a cool object must have a mass well below the hydrogenburning limit of 0.08 M⊙ and therefore is a genuine brown dwarf, with a probable mass in the range 0.015-0.06 M⊙ for an age range of 0.3-5 Gyr. Subject headings: stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs - surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L61-L64
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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