I present new results from a continuing program to identify and characterize the low-mass stellar and substellar populations in the young cluster IC 348 (0.5-10 Myr). Optical spectroscopy has revealed young objects with spectral types as late as M8.25. The intrinsic J-H and H-K colors of these sources are dwarflike whereas the R - I and I - J colors appear intermediate between the colors of dwarfs and giants. Furthermore, the spectra from 6500 to 9500 Å are reproduced well with averages of standard dwarf and giant spectra, suggesting that such averages should be used in the classification of young late-type sources. An H-R diagram is constructed for the low-mass population in IC 348 (K6-M8). The presumably coeval components of the young quadruple system GG Tau (White et al.) and the locus of stars in IC 348 are used as empirical isochrones to test the theoretical evolutionary models. The calculations of Burrows et al. do not appear to be consistent with the data at these earliest stages of stellar evolution. There is fair agreement between the data and the model isochrones of D'Antona & Mazzitelli, except near the hydrogen-burning limit. The agreement cannot be improved by changing the conversion between spectral types and effective temperatures. On the other hand, for the models of Baraffe et al., an adjustment of the temperature scale to progressively warmer temperatures at later M types, intermediate between dwarfs and giants, brings all components of GG Tau onto the same model isochrone and gives the population of IC 348 a constant age and age spread as a function of mass. When other observational constraints are considered, such as the dynamical masses of GM Aur, DM Tau, and GG Tau A, the models of Baraffe et al. are the most consistent with observations of young systems. With compatible temperature scales, the models of both D'Antona & Mazzitelli and Baraffe et al. suggest that the hydrogen-burning mass limit occurs near M6 at ages of ≲10 Myr. Thus, several likely brown dwarfs are discovered in this study of IC 348, with masses down to ∼20-30 MJ.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science