EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 481, Number 3, April III 2008
Page(s) 661 - 672
Section Galactic structure, stellar clusters, and populations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20079303
Published online 04 February 2008

A&A 481, 661-672 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20079303

Brown dwarfs and very low mass stars in the Hyades cluster: a dynamically evolved mass function

J. Bouvier1, T. Kendall2, G. Meeus3, L. Testi4, 5, E. Moraux1, J. R. Stauffer6, D. James7, J.-C. Cuillandre8, J. Irwin9, M. J. McCaughrean10, I. Baraffe11, and E. Bertin12

1  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, Observatoire de Grenoble, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble, France
    e-mail: jbouvier@obs.ujf-grenoble.fr
2  Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK
3  Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
4  Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, INAF, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
5  European Southern Observatory, Karl Schwarzschild Str. 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
6  Spitzer Science Center, California Institute of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
7  Department of Physics & Astronomy, Box 1807 Station B, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA
8  CFHT Corporation, 65-1238 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, Hawaii 96743, USA
9  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street MS-16, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
10  School of Physics, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QL, UK
11  CRAL, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France
12  Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France

(Received 21 December 2007 / Accepted 7 January 2008)

Aims. We conducted a search for brown dwarfs (BDs) and very low mass (VLM) stars in the 625 Myr-old Hyades cluster in order to derive the cluster's mass function across the stellar-substellar boundary.
Methods. We performed a deep (I=23, z=22.5) photometric survey over 16 deg2 around the cluster center and followed up with K-band photometry to measure the proper motion of candidate members and with optical and near-IR spectroscopy of probable BD and VLM members.
Results. We report the discovery of the first 2 BDs in the Hyades cluster. The 2 objects have a spectral type early-T and their optical and near-IR photometry as well as their proper motion are consistent with them being cluster members. According to models, their mass is 50 Jupiter masses at an age of 625 Myr. We also report the discovery of 3 new very low mass stellar members of the cluster and confirm the membership of 16 others. We combine these results with a list of previously known cluster members to build the present-day mass function (PDMF) of the Hyades cluster from 50 Jupiter masses to 3 $M_\odot$. We find the Hyades PDMF to be strongly deficient in very low mass objects and BDs compared to the IMF of younger open clusters such as the Pleiades. We interpret this deficiency as the result of dynamical evolution over the past few 100 Myr, i.e., the preferential evaporation of low mass cluster members due to weak gravitational encounters.
Conclusions. We thus estimate that the Hyades cluster currently hosts about 10-15 BDs, while its initial substellar population may have amounted to up to 150-200 members.

Key words: stars: luminosity function, mass function -- Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: Hyades (Melotte 25) -- stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs

© ESO 2008