Boss ultracool dwarfs. I. Colors and magnetic activity of m and l dwarfs

Sarah J. Schmidt, Suzanne L. Hawley, Andrew A. West, John J. Bochanski, James R.A. Davenport, Jian Ge, Donald P. Schneider

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We present the colors and activity of ultracool (M7-L8) dwarfs from the Tenth Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). We combine previous samples of SDSS M and L dwarfs with new data obtained from the Baryon Oscillation Sky Survey (BOSS) to produce the BOSS Ultracool Dwarf (BUD) sample of 11820 M7-L8 dwarfs. By combining SDSS data with photometry from 2MASS and the Wide-field Infrared Sky Explorer (WISE) mission, we present ultracool dwarf colors from to as a function of spectral type, and extend the SDSS-2MASS-WISE color locus to include ultracool dwarfs. The , , and colors provide the best indication of spectral type for M7-L3 dwarfs. We also examine ultracool dwarf chromospheric activity through the presence and strength of H emission. The fraction of active dwarfs rises through the M spectral sequence until it reaches ∼90% at spectral type L0. The fraction of active dwarfs then declines to 50% at spectral type L5; no H emission is observed in the late-L dwarfs in the BUD sample. The fraction of active L0-L5 dwarfs is much higher than previously observed. The strength of activity declines with spectral type from M7 through L3, after which the data do not show a clear trend. Using one-dimensional chromosphere models, we explore the range of filling factors and chromospheric temperature structures that are consistent with H observations of M0-L7 dwarfs. M dwarf chromospheres have a similar, smoothly varying range of temperature and surface coverage, while L dwarf chromospheres are cooler and have smaller filling factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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