A Uniform Retrieval Analysis of Ultra-cool Dwarfs. IV. A Statistical Census from 50 Late-T Dwarfs

Joseph A. Zalesky, Kezman Saboi, Michael R. Line, Zhoujian Zhang, Adam C. Schneider, Michael C. Liu, William M.J. Best, Mark S. Marley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The spectra of brown dwarfs are key to exploring the chemistry and physics that take place in their atmospheres. Late-T dwarf spectra are particularly diagnostic, due to their relatively cloud-free atmospheres and deep molecular bands. With the use of powerful atmospheric retrieval tools applied to the spectra of these objects, direct constraints on molecular/atomic abundances, gravity, and vertical thermal profiles can be obtained, enabling a broad exploration of the chemical/physical mechanisms operating in their atmospheres. We present a uniform retrieval analysis on low-resolution Infrared Telescope Facility SpeX near-infrared spectra for a sample of 50 T dwarfs, including new observations as part of a recent volume-limited survey. This analysis more than quadruples the sample of T dwarfs with retrieved temperature profiles and abundances (H2O, CH4, NH3, K, and subsequent C/O and metallicities). We are generally able to constrain the effective temperatures to within 50 K, the volume mixing ratios for major species to within 0.25 dex, the atmospheric metallicities [M/H] to within 0.2, and the C/O ratios to within 0.2. We compare our retrieved constraints on the thermal structures, chemistry, and gravities of these objects with predictions from self-consistent radiative-convective equilibrium models and find, in general, though with substantial scatter, consistency with solar composition chemistry and the thermal profiles of the neighboring stellar FGK population. Objects with notable discrepancies between the two modeling techniques and potential mechanisms for their differences, be they related to the modeling approach or physically motivated, are discussed more thoroughly in the text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume936
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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