23 New free-floating planetary mass objects in Sigma Orionis

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23 New free-floating planetary mass objects in Sigma Orionis

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 22nd May 2012, 8:27 pm

New isolated planetary mass objects and the stellar and substellar mass function of the sigma Orionis cluster

We report on our analysis of the VISTA Orion ZYJHKs photometric data (completeness magnitudes Z=22.6 and J=21.0mag) focusing on a circular area of 2798.4 arcmin^2 around the young sigma Orionis star cluster (~3Myr, ~352pc, solar metallicity). The combination of the VISTA photometry with optical, WISE and Spitzer data allows us to identify a total of 210 cluster member candidates with masses in the interval 0.25-0.004Msun, 23 of which are new planetary-mass object findings. These discoveries double the number of cluster planetary-mass candidates known so far. One object has colors compatible with a T spectral type. The cluster harbors about as many brown dwarfs (69, 0.072-0.012Msun) and planetary-mass objects (37, 0.012-0.004Msun) as very low-mass stars (104, 0.25-0.072Msun). Based on Spitzer data, we derive a disk frequency of ~40% for very low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and planetary mass objects in sigma Orionis. The radial density distributions of these three mass intervals are alike: all are spatially concentrated within an effective radius of 12arcmin (1.2pc) around the multiple star sigma Ori, and no obvious segregation between disk-bearing and diskless objects is observed. Using the VISTA data and the Mayrit catalog, we derive the cluster mass spectrum (DeltaN/DeltaM ~ M^{-alpha}) from ~19 to 0.006Msun (VISTA ZJ completeness), which is reasonably described by two power-law expressions with indices of alpha=1.7+/-0.2 for M>0.35Msun, and alpha=0.6+/-0.2 for M<0.35Msun. The sigma Orionis mass spectrum smoothly extends into the planetary-mass regime down to 0.004Msun. Our findings of T-type sources (<0.004Msun) in the VISTA sigma Orionis exploration appear to be smaller than what is predicted by the extrapolation of the cluster mass spectrum down to the survey J-band completeness.

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