Using the Hubble Space Telescope, the 4 m Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, we have performed deep imaging from 0.8 to 8 μm of the southern subcluster in the Chamaeleon I star-forming region. In these data, we have discovered an object, Cha 110913-773444, whose colors and magnitudes are indicative of a very low mass brown dwarf with a circumstellar disk. In a nearinfrared spectrum of this source obtained with the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph, the presence of strong steam absorption confirms its late-type nature (≥M9.5) while the shapes of the H- and k-band continua and the strengths of the Na I and K I lines demonstrate that it is a young, pre-main-sequence object rather than a field dwarf. A comparison of the bolometric luminosity of Cha 110913-773444 to the luminosities predicted by the evolutionary models of Chabrier & Baraffe and Burrows and coworkers indicates a mass of 8-3-7M, placing it fully within the mass range observed for extrasolar planetary companions (M ≤ 15M,J). The spectral energy distribution of this object exhibits mid-infrared excess emission at λ> 5 μm, which we have successfully modeled in terms of an irradiated viscous accretion disk with M ≤ 10-12 M⊙ yr-1. Cha 110913-773444 is now the least massive brown dwarf observed to have a circumstellar disk, and indeed is one of the least massive free-floating objects found to date. These results demonstrate that the raw materials for planet formation exist around free-floating planetary-mass bodies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science