A Caltech Library Service

A low-mass companion desert among intermediate-mass visual binaries: The scaled-up counterpart to the brown dwarf desert

Duchêne, Gaspard and Oon, Jner Tzern and De Rosa, Robert J. and Kantorski, Patrick and Coy, Brandon and Wang, Jason J. and Thomas, Sandrine and Patience, Jenny and Pueyo, Laurent and Nielsen, Eric L. and Konopacky, Quinn (2023) A low-mass companion desert among intermediate-mass visual binaries: The scaled-up counterpart to the brown dwarf desert. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 519 (1). pp. 778-798. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/stac3527.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We present a high-contrast imaging survey of intermediate-mass (1.75–4.5 M_⊙) stars to search the most extreme stellar binaries, i.e. for the lowest mass stellar companions. Using adaptive optics at the Lick and Gemini observatories, we observed 169 stars and detected 24 candidates companions, 16 of which are newly discovered, and all but three are likely or confirmed physical companions. Despite obtaining sensitivity down to the substellar limit for 75 per cent of our sample, we do not detect any companion below 0.3 M_⊙, strongly suggesting that the distribution of stellar companions is truncated at a mass ratio of q_(min) ≳ 0.075. Combining our results with known brown dwarf companions, we identify a low-mass companion desert to intermediate-mass stars in the range 0.02 ≲ q ≲ 0.05, which quantitatively matches the known brown dwarf desert among solar-type stars. We conclude that the formation mechanism for multiple systems operates in a largely scale-invariant manner and precludes the formation of extremely uneven systems, likely because the components of a protobinary accrete most of their mass after the initial cloud fragmentation. Similarly, the mechanism to form 'planetary' (q ≲ 0.02) companions likely scales linearly with stellar mass, probably as a result of the correlation between the masses of stars and their protoplanetary discs. Finally, we predict the existence of a sizable population of brown dwarf companions to low-mass stars and of a rising population of planetary-mass objects towards ≈ 1 M_(Jup) around solar-type stars. Improvements on current instrumentation will test these predictions.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Duchêne, Gaspard0000-0002-5092-6464
Oon, Jner Tzern0000-0002-5716-5653
De Rosa, Robert J.0000-0002-4918-0247
Coy, Brandon0000-0002-0508-857X
Wang, Jason J.0000-0003-0774-6502
Thomas, Sandrine0000-0002-9121-3436
Patience, Jenny0000-0001-9004-803X
Pueyo, Laurent0000-0003-3818-408X
Nielsen, Eric L.0000-0001-6975-9056
Konopacky, Quinn0000-0002-9936-6285
Additional Information:We are grateful to the staff at Lick and Gemini observatories for their support during the execution of our programs and to the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey (GPIES) team for support in planning, executing and reducing the GPI data presented here. GD, JTO, PK, and BC acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through grant 1413671, as well as from the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. Based on observations obtained at the international Gemini Observatory, a programme of NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation on behalf of the Gemini Observatory partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), National Research Council (Canada), Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Chile), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Argentina), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brazil), and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (Republic of Korea). This research has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, of the Washington Double Star Catalog maintained at the U.S. Naval Observatory, of data obtained from or tools provided by the portal of The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia, and of the SIMBAD data base and Vizier catalogue access tool operated by the Centre de Données Astronomiques de Strasbourg, France.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
University of California, BerkeleyUNSPECIFIED
Gemini PartnershipUNSPECIFIED
Gaia Multilateral AgreementUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230213-466109600.20
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:119246
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:26 Mar 2023 13:59
Last Modified:27 Mar 2023 15:54

Repository Staff Only: item control page