Discovery of Two Nearby Peculiar L Dwarfs from the 2MASS Proper-Motion Survey: Young or Metal-Rich?

October 2008 • 2008ApJ...686..528L

Authors • Looper, Dagny L. • Kirkpatrick, J. Davy • Cutri, Roc M. • Barman, Travis • Burgasser, Adam J. • Cushing, Michael C. • Roellig, Thomas • McGovern, Mark R. • McLean, Ian S. • Rice, Emily • Swift, Brandon J. • Schurr, Steven D.

Abstract • We present the discovery of two nearby L dwarfs from our 2MASS proper-motion search, which uses multiepoch 2MASS observations covering ~4700 deg2 of sky. 2MASS J18212815+1414010 and 2MASS J21481628+4003593 were overlooked by earlier surveys due to their faint optical magnitudes and their proximity to the Galactic plane (10° <= | b | <= 15°). Assuming that both dwarfs are single, we derive spectrophotometric distances of ~10 pc, thus increasing the number of known L dwarfs within 10 pc to 10. In the near-infrared, 2MASS J21481628+4003593 shows a triangular H-band spectrum, strong CO absorption, and a markedly red J - Ks color (2.38 +/- 0.06) for its L6 optical spectral type. 2MASS J18212815+1414010 also shows a triangular H-band spectrum and a slightly red J - Ks color (1.78 +/- 0.05) for its L4.5 optical spectral type. Both objects show strong silicate absorption at 9-11 μm. Cumulatively, these features imply an unusually dusty photosphere for both of these objects. We examine several scenarios to explain the underlying cause for their enhanced dust content and find that a metal-rich atmosphere or a low surface gravity are consistent with these results. 2MASS J18212815+1414010 may be young (and therefore have a low surface gravity) based on its low tangential velocity of 10 km s-1. On the other hand, 2MASS J21481628+4003593 has a high tangential velocity of 62 km s-1 and is therefore likely old. Hence, high metallicity and low surface gravity may lead to similar effects.

Based in part on data collected at Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation.


IPAC Authors

Roc Cutri

IPAC Deputy Director


Davy Kirkpatrick

Senior Scientist