This review summarizes the current status of both brown dwarf theory and the searches for these elusive substellar objects. The conceptual continuity between the brown dwarf and the well-studied M dwarf branches is emphasized throughout. The physics of their atmospheres and interiors is reviewed and an analytic model of both brown dwarf evolution and the lower edge of the hydrogen main sequence is presented. An extensive discussion of brown dwarf searches in the field, in binaries, around white dwarfs, in clusters, in the solar neighborhood, in the galactic halo, and using proper-motion catalogs is provided, as is a tentative list of candidates in the field. The theory near and below the edge of the main sequence, while sophisticated, is only now being successfully challenged by optical and infrared observations. The near future promises a productive explosion in our knowledge of this problematic galactic population.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)