SCYON Abstract

Received on December 2 2003

On the origin of brown dwarfs and free-floating planetary mass objects

AuthorsPavel Kroupa1,2, Jérôme Bouvier1
Affiliation1Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de l'Observatoire de Grenoble, BP 53, F-38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
2Institut für Theoretische Physik und Astrophysik der Universität Kiel, D-24098 Kiel, Germany
Accepted byMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


Briceno et al. report a significantly smaller number of brown dwarfs (BDs) per star in the Taurus-Auriga (TA) pre-main sequence stellar groups than in the central region of the Orion Nebula cluster (ONC). Also, BDs have binary properties that are not compatible with a star-like formation history. It is shown here that these results can be understood if BDs are produced as ejected embryos with a dispersion of ejection velocities of about 2 km/s and if the number of ejected embryos is about one per four stars born in TA and ONC. The Briceno et al. observation is thus compatible with a universal BD production mechanism and a universal IMF, but the required number of BDs per star is much too small to account for the one BD per star deduced to be present in the Galactic field. There are two other mechanisms for producing BDs and free-floating planetary-mass objects (FFLOPs), namely the removal of accretion envelopes from low-mass proto-stars through photo-evaporation through nearby massive stars, and hyperbolic collisions between proto-stars in dense clusters. The third BD flavour, the collisional BDs, can be neglected in the ONC. It is shown that the observed IMF with a flattening near 0.5 Mo can be re-produced via photo-evaporation of proto-stars if they are distributed according to a featureless Salpeter MF above the sub-stellar mass limit, and that the photo-evaporated BDs should have a smaller velocity dispersion than the stars. The number of photo-evaporated BDs per star should increase with cluster mass, peaking in globular clusters that would have contained many stars as massive as 150 Mo. The required number of embryo-ejected BDs in TA and the ONC can be as low as 6 ejected BDs per 100 stars if the central ONC contains 0.23 photo-evaporated BDs per star. Alternatively, if the assumption is discarded that embryo ejection must operate equally in all environments, then it can be argued that TA produced about one ejected BD per star leading to consistency with the Galactic-field observations. The dispersion of ejection velocities would be about 3 km/s. In the central ONC the number of ejected BDs per star would then be at most 0.37, or less if photo-evaporated BDs contribute. This non-universal scenario would thus imply that the Galactic-field BD population may mostly stem from TA-like star formation or modest clusters, the ONC not being able to contribute more than about 0.25 ± 0.04 BDs per star.