The Search for Brown Dwarf Binary Systems

Dr. Denise Stephens
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Brigham Young University

Brown Dwarfs, as the name implies, are small substellar objects that are probably more of a dark red, magenta, or purplish hue than brown. These objects are important to astronomers because they span the temperature range and mass range right between gas giant planets and low-mass stars. The physical characteristics of these objects reveals information not only about themselves, but also about the gas giant planets and low-mass stars, who share similar physical characteristics. Of particular interest are the binary systems, which because of their mutual orbits, are the only method currently available to directly measure the mass of a brown dwarf. In this talk, I will give some background on the physics of brown dwarfs, why the discovery and characterization of the orbits of binary brown dwarf systems is so important, and report on not only my work but some of the recent results in the field that have been published.