Retrieval of atmospheric properties of cloudy L dwarfs

Ben Burningham, M. S. Marley, Michael Line, R. Lupu, C. Visscher, C. V. Morley, D. Saumon, R. Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present the first results from applying the spectral inversion technique in the cloudy L dwarf regime. Our newframework provides a flexible approach to modelling cloud opacity which can be built incrementally as the data require and improves upon previous retrieval experiments in the brown dwarf regime by allowing for scattering in two-stream radiative transfer. Our first application of the tool to two mid-L dwarfs is able to reproduce their near-infrared spectra far more closely than grid models. Our retrieved thermal, chemical and cloud profiles allow us to estimate Teff = 1796-25 +23 K and log g = 5.21-0.08 +0.05 for 2MASS J05002100+0330501, and for 2MASSW J2224438-015852 we find Teff = 1723-19 +18 K and log g = 5.31-0.08 +0.04, in close agreement with previous empirical estimates. Our best model for both objects includes an optically thick cloud deck which passes τ cloud ≥ 1 (looking down) at a pressure of around 5 bar. The temperature at this pressure is too high for silicate species to condense, and we argue that corundum and/or iron clouds are responsible for this cloud opacity. Our retrieved profiles are cooler at depth and warmer at altitude than the forward grid models that we compare, and we argue that some form of heating mechanism may be at work in the upper atmospheres of these L dwarfs.We also identify anomalously high CO abundance in both targets, which does not correlate with the warmth of our upper atmospheres or our choice of cloud model, and find similarly anomalous alkali abundance for one of our targets. These anomalies may reflect unrecognized shortcomings in our retrieval model or inaccuracies in our gas phase opacities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1197
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume470
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Fingerprint

retrieval
opacity
upper atmosphere
grids
corundum
estimates
profiles
coolers
radiative transfer
alkalies
silicates
near infrared
infrared spectra
silicate
aluminum oxides
scattering
inversions
anomalies
vapor phases
heating

Keywords

  • Brown dwarfs
  • Planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • Radiative transfer
  • Stars: atmospheres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Burningham, B., Marley, M. S., Line, M., Lupu, R., Visscher, C., Morley, C. V., ... Freedman, R. (2017). Retrieval of atmospheric properties of cloudy L dwarfs. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 470(1), 1177-1197. https://doi.org/10.1093/MNRAS/STX1246

Retrieval of atmospheric properties of cloudy L dwarfs. / Burningham, Ben; Marley, M. S.; Line, Michael; Lupu, R.; Visscher, C.; Morley, C. V.; Saumon, D.; Freedman, R.

In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 470, No. 1, 01.09.2017, p. 1177-1197.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Burningham, B, Marley, MS, Line, M, Lupu, R, Visscher, C, Morley, CV, Saumon, D & Freedman, R 2017, 'Retrieval of atmospheric properties of cloudy L dwarfs', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 470, no. 1, pp. 1177-1197. https://doi.org/10.1093/MNRAS/STX1246
Burningham, Ben ; Marley, M. S. ; Line, Michael ; Lupu, R. ; Visscher, C. ; Morley, C. V. ; Saumon, D. ; Freedman, R. / Retrieval of atmospheric properties of cloudy L dwarfs. In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 2017 ; Vol. 470, No. 1. pp. 1177-1197.
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