CWISE J014611.20-050850.0AB: The Widest Known Brown Dwarf Binary in the Field

Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Collaboration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While stars are often found in binary systems, brown dwarf binaries are much rarer. Brown dwarf-brown dwarf pairs are typically difficult to resolve because they often have very small separations. Using brown dwarfs discovered with data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) via the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 citizen science project, we inspected other, higher-resolution, sky surveys for overlooked cold companions. During this process, we discovered the brown dwarf binary system CWISE J0146-0508AB, which we find has a very small chance alignment probability based on the similar proper motions of the components of the system. Using follow-up near-infrared spectroscopy with Keck/NIRES, we determined component spectral types of L4 and L8 (blue), making CWISE J0146-0508AB one of only a few benchmark systems with a blue L dwarf. At an estimated distance of ∼40 pc, CWISE J0146-0508AB has a projected separation of ∼129 au, making it the widest-separation brown dwarf pair found to date. We find that such a wide separation for a brown dwarf binary may imply formation in a low-density star-forming region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL12
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume926
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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