31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 9. Extra-solar Planets Posters
Poster Group I, Monday-Wednesday, October 11, 1999, , Kursaal Center

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[9.04] Infrared Search for Wide Methane Companions of Nearby M Dwarfs (Title Only)

G.J. Veeder, T.H. Jarrett (JPL)

M dwarf systems often have multiple components which include spectroscopic as well as wide binaries. Since brighter substellar companions are expected in younger systems, they should be associated with Me (hydrogen emission) dwarfs and flare stars which display coronal activity. Self-luminous planets and brown dwarfs are expected to show the best contrast against the sky background and the scattered light from their primary stars near their thermal emission peak.

We have imaged fields in the near-infrared around faint Me dwarfs in the solar neighborhood. The targeting strategy emphasizes low luminosity flare stars at high galactic latitudes. Deep exposures were obtained with the Prime Focus Infrared Camera (PFIRCAM) on the Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory. The FOV of PFIRCAM is 128x128 arcsec. Observations were made at J, K' and a narrowband filter (K") to isolate the strong methane feature between 2.3-2.4 microns. Each PFIRCAM field yields ~10 IR sources down to ~20 K mag. Their photometric data have been reduced via the distance modulus of each target for comparison among fields. The colors of these IR sources range from neutral white to the reddest M and L dwarfs. The K'-K" color has good potential as a methane discriminant for cool near-infrared companions.

PFIRCAM was developed by C. Beichman. This work was done at JPL under contract to NASA.

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