4. The mass of CoD-33°7795 B
Based on its spectral type and magnitude (H mag, L99), CoD-33°7795 B would be located at pc, if it would be main-sequence dwarf ( mag, Kirkpatrick & McCarthy 1994). From the six objects with mag found within 5 pc around the Sun, we can estimate the probability for chance alignment of CoD-33°7795 B within around star A to be . Given the very sparse space density of T Tauri stars in the TWA region, the probability for CoD-33°7795 B to be a free-floating young TWA brown dwarf, unrelated to star A, is of the same order. Thus, there is a high probability that component B is a physical companion to star A.
CoD-33°7795 A is a spectroscopic binary (W99). For an equal-mass binary at pc, the age is Myrs (Weintraub et al. 2000). We can assume the same age for its companion. Hence, for its young age and spectral type, CoD-33°7795 B is below the sub-stellar limit according to different sets of tracks and isochrones (e.g. Baraffe et al. 1998). Hence, it is a brown dwarf.
The mass of each component in the spectroscopic binary CoD-33°7795 A, assuming that both components have equal masses, is (Weintraub et al. 2000 using Baraffe et al. 1998 tracks). Thus, the separation at pc distance corresponds to a projected separation of AU and to an orbital period of yrs. Assuming a circular orbit viewed pole-on, we expect mas/yr orbital motion.
The location of object B relative to star A in the FORS2 image is deviant from the HST images (Fig. 3b): object B lies west of star A. This can be interpreted as first indication for orbital motion after the two year epoch difference. The alternative interpretation that object B is a fast moving foreground star, is extremly unlikely (see above). If this slight deviation indeed is orbital motion, the inclination is not edge-on, because we see motion in the plane of the sky. Given the good seeing and image quality at the VLT, the errors in the location of object B relative to star A should improve, if one can obtain unsaturated images. Then, one can detect curvature in the orbit within a few years.
Given the young age and spectral type M8.5 to M9 of CoD-33°7795 B, its effective temperature - using the scale intermediate between giant and dwarfs provided by Luhman (1999) - is K, where the error comes from the error in the Luhman scale and the spectral type ( sub-types). This results in a bolometric luminosity of ( (using mag).
Comparing these numbers with theoretical models, we can estimate its mass: From the Burrows et al. (1997) models, we obtain . According to Baraffe et al. (1998), the object is located on the 10 Myrs isochrone (co-eval with the primary) with a mass of . With the new Chabrier et al. (2000) models, the companion has a mass of for an age of 1 to 20 Myrs. Overall, a range of to 40 is reasonable. All those models, however, are uncertain at the young age of our object.
Because CoD-33°7795 A is a spectroscopic binary and because it may soon be possible to detect orbital motion of the companion brown dwarf, masses and/or mass ratios might be determined soon. Finally, all three objects should be co-eval, so that this triple system will be a good test case for theoretical evolutionary tracks and isochrones.
© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000
Online publication: August 23, 2000