The Brown Dwarf Kinematics Project
Faherty, Jackie Kelly
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Brown dwarfs are a recent addition to the plethora of objects studied in Astronomy. With theoretical masses between 13 and 75 M<sub>Jupiter</sub>, they lack sustained stable Hydrogen burning so they never join the stellar main sequence. They have physical properties similar to both planets and low--mass stars so studies of their population inform on both. The distances and kinematics of brown dwarfs provide key statistical constraints on their ages, moving group membership, absolute brightnesses, evolutionary trends, and multiplicity. Yet, until my thesis, fundamental measurements of parallax and proper motion were made for only a relatively small fraction of the known population. To address this deficiency, I initiated the Brown Dwarf Kinematics (BDKP). Over the past four years I have re-imaged the majority of spectroscopically confirmed field brown dwarfs (or ultracool dwarfs--UCDs) and created the largest proper motion catalog for ultracool dwarfs to date. Using new astrometric information I examined population characteristics such as ages calculated from velocity dispersions and correlations between kinematics and colors. Using proper motions, I identified several new wide co-moving companions and investigated binding energy (and hence formation) limitations as well as the frequency of hierarchical companions. Concurrently over the past four years I have been conducting a parallax survey of 84 UCDs including those showing spectral signatures of youth, metal-poor brown dwarfs, and those within 20 pc of the Sun. Using absolute magnitude relations in J,H, and K, I identified overluminous binary candidates and investigated known flux-reversal binaries. Using current evolutionary models, I compared the M<sub>K</sub> vs J-K color magnitude diagram to model predictions and found that the low-surface gravity dwarfs are significantly redward and underluminous of predictions and a handful of late-type T dwarfs may require thicker clouds to account for their scatter.