NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0486

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Proposal Information for 2013A-0486


PI: Aren Heinze, Stony Brook University, ariheinze@hotmail.com
Address: Physics Department, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800, USA

CoI: Stanimir Metchev, Stony Brook University
CoI: Daniel Apai, University of Arizona
CoI: Davin Flateau, University of Arizona

Title: Wild Weather: Do Rapid Cloud Changes Mask Rotational Modulation of Brown Dwarf Variability?

Abstract: We will probe the timescale on which clouds can evolve on four variable L dwarfs identified through our `Weather on Other Worlds' Spitzer Space Telescope program. Specifically, the observations we propose will test the `masking hypothesis' of Bailer-Jones and Mundt (2001), which envisions L dwarf clouds changing so quickly that the expected rotationally modulated photometric variability is masked, and only non-periodic variations can be detected. The masking hypothesis implies that clouds on at least some L dwarfs change hundreds to thousands of times faster than on Jupiter and Saturn, and at least tens of times faster than on T dwarfs. Our Spitzer data as well as previously published ground based observations suggest that some, but not all, L dwarfs behave this way. By monitoring four known variable L dwarfs for a longer interval than that of the Spitzer observations and most previous ground based studies, we will evaluate the prevalence of strong non-periodic variations, perform a comparative study of the cloud evolution timescales on different L dwarfs, and take a first step toward understanding why clouds seem to vary at such different rates on different objects.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0486

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