We present 0.6-2.5 μm, R ≳ 400 spectra of 27 cool, low-luminosity stars and substellar objects. Based on these and previously published spectra, we develop a preliminary spectral classification system for L and T dwarfs. For late L and T types the classification system is based entirely on four spectral indices in the 1-2.5 μm interval. Two of these indices are derived from water absorption bands at 1.15 and 1.4 μm, the latter of which shows a smooth increase in depth through the L and T sequences and can be used to classify both spectral types. The other two indices make use of methane absorption features in the H and K bands, with the X-band index also applicable to mid-to-late L dwarfs. Continuum indices shortward of l μm used by previous authors to classify L dwarfs are found to be useful only through mid-L subclasses. We employ the 1.5 μm water index and the 2.2 μm methane index to complete the L classification through L9.5 and to link the new system with a modified version of the 2MASS "color-d" index. By correlating the depths of the methane and water absorption features, we establish a T spectral sequence from T0 to T8, based on all four indices, that is a smooth continuation of the L sequence. We reclassify two 2MASS L8 dwarfs as L9 and L9. 5 and identify one SDSS object as L9. In the proposed system methane absorption appears in the K band approximately at L8, two subclasses earlier than its appearance in the H band. The L and T spectral classes are distinguished by the absence and presence, respectively, of H-band methane absorption.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Infrared: stars
- Stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs