Cloud Atlas: Discovery of Rotational Spectral Modulations in a Low-mass, L-type Brown Dwarf Companion to a Star

January 2018 • 2018AJ....155...11M

Authors • Manjavacas, Elena • Apai, Dániel • Zhou, Yifan • Karalidi, Theodora • Lew, Ben W. P. • Schneider, Glenn • Cowan, Nicolas • Metchev, Stan • Miles-Páez, Paulo A. • Burgasser, Adam J. • Radigan, Jacqueline • Bedin, Luigi R. • Lowrance, Patrick J. • Marley, Mark S.

Abstract • Observations of rotational modulations of brown dwarfs and giant exoplanets allow the characterization of condensate cloud properties. As of now, rotational spectral modulations have only been seen in three L-type brown dwarfs. We report here the discovery of rotational spectral modulations in LP261-75B, an L6-type intermediate surface gravity companion to an M4.5 star. As a part of the Cloud Atlas Treasury program, we acquired time-resolved Wide Field Camera 3 grism spectroscopy (1.1-1.69 μm) of LP261-75B. We find gray spectral variations with the relative amplitude displaying only a weak wavelength dependence and no evidence for lower-amplitude modulations in the 1.4 μm water band than in the adjacent continuum. The likely rotational modulation period is 4.78 ± 0.95 hr, although the rotational phase is not well sampled. The minimum relative amplitude in the white light curve measured over the whole wavelength range is 2.41% ± 0.14%. We report an unusual light curve, which seems to have three peaks approximately evenly distributed in rotational phase. The spectral modulations suggests that the upper atmosphere cloud properties in LP261-75B are similar to two other mid-L dwarfs of typical infrared colors, but differ from that of the extremely red L-dwarf WISE0047.


IPAC Authors


Patrick Lowrance

Senior Scientist