A systematic search for low-mass companions orbiting nearby stars and the calibration of the end of the stellar main sequence.
AuthorHenry, Todd Jackson.
AdvisorMcCarthy, Donald W., Jr.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWe have completed a search for low luminosity companions, including high mass brown dwarfs, to all M dwarfs known within eight parsecs of the sun, and north of -25°. We found six new companions orbiting the survey stars. The masses of the six new secondaries fall between 0.39 and 0.05 M(⊙). Three of the new companions, G208-44B, GL 623B and LHS 1047B, and one previously known secondary in the survey, Ross 614B, are brown dwarf candidates with masses ∼80 Jupiters (0.08 M(⊙)), the dividing line between stars and brown dwarfs. In addition, we provide infrared photometry at J, H and K for all 99 survey members, and spectral types on standard system for half. Analysis of the entire sample indicates that 50% of the stars in the more distant half of the survey volume remain undetected, as is supported by the steadily growing M dwarf census over the last 45 years. The binary fraction of M dwarfs, 30-40%, is lower than that of earlier type main sequence stars, and there are more companions to M dwarfs found between 1 and 10 AU than in any other decade interval. We find that the luminosity function of the lowest mass stars is flat or rising to the end of the main sequence, and that the mass function undoubtedly rises to the stellar/substellar break. We illustrate that the resolution of close binaries is crucial if accurate luminosity and mass functions are to be determined. Finally, we estimate 0.02 M(⊙)/pc³ to be the amount of mass contributed by M dwarfs to the galactic mass. Based upon new mass-luminosity relations developed at infrared wavelengths using a sample of stars with well-determined masses between 1.2 and 0.08 M(⊙), we are able to define empirically the end of the main sequence. We present absolute magnitudes, colors and spectral types for objects at the theoretical lowest stellar mass. Using these relations, we conclude that a few brown dwarfs may have already been discovered. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)