Volume 413, Number 3, January III 2004
|Page(s)||1029 - 1036|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||07 January 2004|
ε Indi Ba,Bb: The nearest binary brown dwarf*
Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
2 Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, 933 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85721–0065, USA
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
4 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile
Corresponding author: M. J. McCaughrean, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 2 October 2003
We have carried out high angular resolution near-infrared imaging and low-resolution () spectroscopy of the nearest known brown dwarf, ε Indi B, using the ESO VLT NAOS/CONICA adaptive optics system. We find it to be a close binary (as also noted by Volk et al. 2003), with an angular separation of 0.732 arcsec, corresponding to 2.65 AU at the 3.626 pc distance of the ε Indi system. In our discovery paper (Scholz et al. 2003), we concluded that ε Indi B was a ~50 MJup T2.5 dwarf: our revised finding is that the two system components (ε Indi Ba and ε Indi Bb) have spectral types of T1 and T6, respectively, and estimated masses of 47 and 28 MJup , respectively, assuming an age of 1.3 Gyr. Errors in the masses are ±10 and ±7 MJup , respectively, dominated by the uncertainty in the age determination (0.8–2 Gyr range). This uniquely well-characterised T dwarf binary system should prove important in the study of low-mass, cool brown dwarfs. The two components are bright and relatively well-resolved: ε Indi B is the only T dwarf binary in which spectra have been obtained for both components. The system has a well-established distance and age. Finally, their orbital motion can be measured on a fairly short timescale (nominal orbital period ~15 yrs), permitting an accurate determination of the true total system mass, helping to calibrate brown dwarf evolutionary models.
Key words: astrometry / surveys / stars: late-type / stars: low mass, brown dwarfs / stars: binaries: general
© ESO, 2004
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