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Variable accretion and outflow in young brown dwarfs

By Er Scholz and Ray Jayawardhana


We report on the first dedicated monitoring campaign of spectroscopic variability in young brown dwarfs. High-resolution optical spectra of six targets in nearby star-forming regions were obtained over 11 nights between 2005 January-March on the Magellan 6.5m telescope. We find significant variability in Hα and a number of other emission lines related to accretion and outflow processes on a variety of timescales ranging from hours to weeks to years. The most dramatic changes are seen for 2MASS J1207334-393254 (2M1207), 2MASS J11013205-7718249 (2M1101) and ChaI-ISO217. We observe possible accretion rate changes by about an order of magnitude in two of these objects, over timescales of weeks (2M1207) or hours (2M1101). The accretion ‘burst ’ seen in 2M1101 could be due to a ‘clumpy ’ flow. We also see indications for changes in the outflow rate in at least three objects. In one case (ISO217), there appears to be a ∼1-hour time lag between outflow and accretion variations, consistent with a scenario in which the wind originates from the inner disk edge. For some objects there is evidence for emission line variability induced by rotation. Our variability study supports a close to edge-on inclination for the brown dwarf LS-RCrA 1. The fact that all targets in our sample show variations in accretion and/or outflow indicators suggests that studies of young brown dwarf properties should be based either on large samples or time series. As an example, we demonstrate that the large scatter in the recently found accretion rate vs. mass relationship can be explained primarily with variability. The observed profile variations imply asymmetric accretion flows in brown dwarfs, which, in turn, is evidence for magnetic funneling by large-scale fields. We show that accreting sub-stellar objects may harbor magnetic fields with ∼kG strength. Subject headings: stars: formation, low-mass, brown dwarfs, winds, outflows — line: profiles, formation — accretion, accretion disks – 2 – 1

Year: 2005
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