A Comparative L-dwarf Sample Exploring the Interplay Between Atmospheric Assumptions and Data Properties

Eileen C. Gonzales, Ben Burningham, Jacqueline K. Faherty, Nikole K. Lewis, Channon Visscher, Mark Marley

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Comparisons of atmospheric retrievals can reveal powerful insights on the strengths and limitations of our data and modeling tools. In this paper, we examine a sample of 5 similar effective temperature (Teff) or spectral type L dwarfs to compare their pressure-temperature (P-T) profiles. Additionally, we explore the impact of an object's metallicity and the observations' signal-to-noise (SNR) on the parameters we can retrieve. We present the first atmospheric retrievals: 2MASS J15261405$+$2043414, 2MASS J05395200$-$0059019, 2MASS J15394189$-$0520428, and GD 165B increasing the small but growing number of L-dwarfs retrieved. When compared to atmospheric retrievals of SDSS J141624.08+134826.7, a low-metallicity d/sdL7 primary in a wide L+T binary, we find similar Teff sources have similar P-T profiles with metallicity differences impacting the relative offset between their P-T profiles in the photosphere. We also find that for near-infrared spectra, when the SNR is $\gtrsim80$ we are in a regime where model uncertainties dominate over data measurement uncertainties. As such, SNR does not play a role in the retrieval's ability to distinguish between a cloud-free and cloudless model, but may impact the confidence of the retrieved parameters. Lastly, we also discuss how to break cloud model degeneracies and the impact of extraneous gases in a retrieval model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Number of pages14
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2022


  • astro-ph.EP
  • astro-ph.SR


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