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Published January 1, 2007 | Published
Journal Article Open

Discovery of Two T Dwarf Companions with the Spitzer Space Telescope


We report the discovery of T dwarf companions to the nearby stars HN Peg (G0 V, 18.4 pc, τ ~ 0.3 Gyr) and HD 3651 (K0 V, 11.1 pc, τ ~ 7 Gyr). During an ongoing survey of 5' × 5' fields surrounding stars in the solar neighborhood with the Infrared Array Camera aboard the Spitzer Space Telescope, we identified these companions as candidate T dwarfs based on their mid-infrared colors. Using near-infrared spectra obtained with SpeX at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, we confirm the presence of methane absorption that characterizes T dwarfs and measure spectral types of T2.5 ± 0.5 and T7.5 ± 0.5 for HN Peg B and HD 3651B, respectively. By comparing our Spitzer data to images from the Two Micron All Sky Survey obtained several years earlier, we find that the proper motions of HN Peg B and HD 3651B are consistent with those of the primaries, confirming their companionship. A comparison of their luminosities to the values predicted by theoretical evolutionary models implies masses of 0.021 ± 0.009 and 0.051 ± 0.014 M_⊙ for HN Peg B and HD 3651B, respectively. In addition, the models imply an effective temperature for HN Peg B that is significantly lower than the values derived for other T dwarfs at similar spectral types, which is the same behavior reported by Metchev & Hillenbrand for the young late L dwarf HD 203030B. Thus, the temperature of the L/T transition appears to depend on surface gravity. Meanwhile, HD 3651B is the first substellar companion directly imaged around a star that is known to harbor a close-in planet from radial velocity surveys. The discovery of this companion supports the notion that the high eccentricities of close-in planets like that near HD 3651 may be the result of perturbations by low-mass companions at wide separations.

Additional Information

© 2007 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 July 22; accepted 2006 September 8. We thank Eric Mamajek for discussions regarding the ages of HN Peg and HD 3651 and Adam Burgasser for providing his spectra of T dwarf standards. We are also grateful to Geoff Bryden for checking his 24 m images of HN Peg for a detection of the companion. K. L. was supported by grant NAG5-11627 from the NASA Long-Term Space Astrophysics program. This work is based on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology under NASA contract 1407. Support for the IRAC instrumentwas provided byNASA through contract 960541 issued by JPL.

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