The Initial Mass Function in the Taurus Star-forming Region

November 2002 • 2002ApJ...580..317B

Authors • Briceño, César • Luhman, K. L. • Hartmann, Lee • Stauffer, John R. • Kirkpatrick, J. Davy

Abstract • By combining a deep optical imaging (I,z') survey of 8 deg2 in the Taurus star-forming region with data from the Two-Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS) and follow-up spectroscopy, we have performed a search for low-mass Taurus members that is complete to 0.02 Msolar for reddenings of AV<~4. We report the discovery of nine new members with spectral types of M5.75-M9.5, corresponding to masses of 0.1-0.015 Msolar by recent evolutionary models. The new M9.5 member is the least massive brown dwarf found to date in the Taurus star-forming region. We derive an initial mass function (IMF) for the fields surveyed in this work and in our previous studies, which encompass 54% of the known Taurus membership. We compare the Taurus IMF with a similarly derived one for the Trapezium Cluster and to mass functions for the M35 and Pleiades open clusters. While the IMFs in all of these regions flatten near ~0.8 Msolar, the mass function in Taurus is more narrow and sharply peaked at this mass. Our survey indicates that Taurus has ~2 × fewer brown dwarfs at 0.02-0.08 Msolar than the Trapezium. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of the IMF, and suggest that the lower frequency of brown dwarfs in Taurus relative to the Trapezium may result from the low-density star-forming environment, leading to larger minimum Jeans masses. Based on observations obtained at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, Keck Observatory, Steward Observatory, and the MMT Observatory. This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.


IPAC Authors


Davy Kirkpatrick

Senior Scientist