The physical properties of brown dwarf companions found to orbit nearby, solar-type stars can be benchmarked against independent measures of their mass, age, chemical composition, and other parameters, offering insights into the evolution of substellar objects. The TRENDS high-contrast imaging survey has recently discovered a (mass/age/metallicity) benchmark brown dwarf orbiting the nearby (d = 18.69 ± 0.19 pc), G8V/K0V star HD 4747. We have acquired follow-up spectroscopic measurements of HD 4747 B using the Gemini Planet Imager to study its spectral type, effective temperature, surface gravity, and cloud properties. Observations obtained in the H-band and K 1-band recover the companion and reveal that it is near the L/T transition (T1 ± 2). Fitting atmospheric models to the companion spectrum, we find strong evidence for the presence of clouds. However, spectral models cannot satisfactorily fit the complete data set: while the shape of the spectrum can be well-matched in individual filters, a joint fit across the full passband results in discrepancies that are a consequence of the inherent color of the brown dwarf. We also find a 2σ tension in the companion mass, age, and surface gravity when comparing to evolutionary models. These results highlight the importance of using benchmark objects to study "secondary effects" such as metallicity, non-equilibrium chemistry, cloud parameters, electron conduction, non-adiabatic cooling, and other subtleties affecting emergent spectra. As a new L/T transition benchmark, HD 4747 B warrants further investigation into the modeling of cloud physics using higher resolution spectroscopy across a broader range of wavelengths, polarimetric observations, and continued Doppler radial velocity and astrometric monitoring.
- stars: individual (HD 4747)
- techniques: high angular resolution
- techniques: imaging spectroscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science