NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014B-0337

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Proposal Information for 2014B-0337


PI: Abhijith Rajan, Arizona State University, abhijithrajan@asu.edu
Address: School of Earth and Space Exploration, 781 Terrace Road, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA

CoI: Jenny Patience, Arizona State University
CoI: Paul A. Wilson, University of Exeter
CoI: Caroline V. Morley, University of California Santa Cruz
CoI: Jonathan J. Fortney, University of California Santa Cruz
CoI: Mark S. Marley, NASA Ames Research Center
CoI: Frederic Pont, University of Exeter

Title: Brown dwarf Atmosphere Monitoring: Surveying the Coolest Brown Dwarfs

Abstract: Using the NEWFIRM camera on the 4m Mayall telescope, we propose to extend our Brown dwarf Atmosphere Monitoring (BAM) surveys to the coolest northern brown dwarfs. The proposed observations will enable exploration of the dynamic atmospheric evolution of ultracool T-dwarfs, which are a link between the coolest stars and exoplanets. Recent work on synthetic atmosphere models has indicated that sulfide and chloride clouds condense in the mid to late T-dwarf spectral range and may impact the observable properties of the atmospheres including color and variability. To obtain empirical measurements for comparison with model atmospheres, we propose a two-semester thesis project to monitor 48 Northern T-dwarfs covering a wide range of near-IR colors consistent with different cloud models. The J-band observations will determine the presence or absence of variability, and inform the next generation of theoretical atmosphere models. Photometric monitoring is an essential tool to search for evidence and evolution of surface brightness inhomogeneities caused by cloud features, storms, or activity. The proposed program will provide a comprehensive dataset serving as a benchmark comparison to directly imaged planets, intensely irradiated Hot Jupiters, and synthetic atmospheric models incorporating different physical processes.


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