Informed Systematic Method to Identify Variable Mid- and Late-T Dwarfs

Natalia Oliveros-Gomez, Elena Manjavacas, Afra Ashraf, Daniella C. Bardalez-Gagliuffi, Johanna M. Vos, Jacqueline K. Faherty, Theodora Karalidi, Daniel Apai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The majority of brown dwarfs show some level of photometric or spectrophotometric variability in different wavelength ranges. This variability allow us to trace the 3D atmospheric structures of variable brown dwarfs and directly-imaged exoplanets with radiative-transfer models and mapping codes. Nevertheless, to date, we do not have an informed method to preselect the brown dwarfs that might show a higher variability amplitude for a thorough variability study. In this work, we designed and tested near-infrared spectral indices to preselect the most likely variable mid- and late-T dwarfs, which overlap in effective temperatures with directly-imaged exoplanets. We used time-resolved near-infrared Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 spectra of a T6.5 dwarf, 2MASS J22282889-431026, to design our novel spectral indices. We tested these spectral indices on 26 T5.5-T7.5 near-infrared SpeX/IRTF spectra, and we provided eight new mid- and late-T variable candidates. We estimated the variability fraction of our sample as 38 − 30 + 4 %, which agrees with the variability fractions provided by Metchev for mid- to late-T dwarfs. In addition, two of the three previously known variables in our sample of SpeX spectra are flagged as variable candidates by our indices. Similarly, all seven known nonvariables in our sample are flagged as nonvariable objects by our indices. These results suggest that our spectral indices might be used to find variable mid- and late-T brown dwarf variables. These indices may be crucial in the future to select cool directly-imaged exoplanets for variability studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number72
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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