Modeling Polarization Signals from Cloudy Brown Dwarfs Luhman 16 A and B in Three Dimensions

Sagnick Mukherjee, Jonathan J. Fortney, Rebecca Jensen-Clem, Xianyu Tan, Mark S. Marley, Natasha E. Batalha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The detection of disk-integrated polarization from Luhman 16 A and B in the H band, and subsequent modeling, has been interpreted in the framework of zonal cloud bands on these bodies. Recently, Tan and Showman investigated the 3D atmospheric circulation and cloud structures of brown dwarfs with general circulation models (GCMs), and their simulations yielded complex cloud distributions showing some aspects of zonal jets, but also complex vortices that cannot be captured by a simple model. Here we use these 3D GCMs specific to Luhman 16 A and B, along with the 3D Monte Carlo radiative transfer code ARTES, to calculate their polarization signals. We adopt the 3D temperature-pressure and cloud profiles from the GCMs as our input atmospheric structures. Our polarization calculations at 1.6 μm agree well with the measured degree of linear polarization from both Luhman 16 A and B. Our calculations reproduce the measured polarization for both objects with cloud particle sizes between 0.5 and 1 μm for Luhman 16 A and of 5 μm for Luhman 16 B. We find that the degree of linear polarization can vary on hour-long timescales over the course of a rotation period. We also show that models with azimuthally symmetric band-like cloud geometries, typically used for interpreting polarimetry observations of brown dwarfs, overpredict the polarization signal if the cloud patterns do not include complex vortices within these bands. This exploratory work shows that GCMs are promising for modeling and interpreting polarization signals of brown dwarfs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume923
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 10 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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