Publications by Patrick Roche

Optical spectroscopic classification and membership of young M dwarfs in star-forming regions

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 381 (2007) 1067-1076

FC Riddick, PF Roche, PWL Lucas

The spectral type is a key parameter in calibrating the temperature which is required to estimate the mass of young stars and brown dwarfs. We describe an approach developed to classify low-mass stars and brown dwarfs in the Trapezium Cluster using red optical spectra, which can be applied to other star-forming regions. The classification uses two methods for greater accuracy: the use of narrow-band spectral indices which rely on the variation of the strength of molecular lines with spectral type and a comparison with other previously classified young, low-mass objects in the Chamaeleon I star-forming region. We have investigated and compared many different molecular indices and have identified a small number of indices which work well for classifying M-type objects in nebular regions. The indices are calibrated for young, pre-main-sequence objects whose spectra are affected by their lower surface gravities compared with those on the main sequence. Spectral types obtained are essentially independent of both reddening and nebular emission lines. Confirmation of candidate young stars and brown dwarfs as bona fide cluster members may be accomplished with moderate resolution spectra in the optical region by an analysis of the strength of the gravity-sensitive Na doublet. It has been established that this feature is much weaker in these very young objects than in field dwarfs. A sodium spectral index is used to estimate the surface gravity and to demonstrate quantitatively the difference between young (1-2 Myr) objects, and dwarf and giant field stars. © 2007 RAS.

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