Disc frequencies for brown dwarfs in the Upper Scorpius OB association: implications for brown dwarf formation theories

B. Riaz, N. Lodieu, S. Goodwin, D. Stamatellos, M. Thompson

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We have investigated the brown dwarf (BD) and stellar disc fractions in the Upper Scorpius OB Association (USco) and compared them with several other young regions. We have compiled the most complete sample of of all spectroscopically confirmed BDs in USco, and have made use of the WISE catalog to identify the disc candidates. We report on the discovery of 12 new BD discs in USco, with spectral type (SpT) between M6 and M8.5. The WISE colors for the new discs are similar to the primordial (transition) discs earlier detected in USco. Combining with previous surveys, we find the lowest inner disc fractions (~20-25%) for a wide range in stellar masses (~0.01-4.0 Msun) in the USco association. The low disc fractions for high-mass stars in USco (and the other clusters) are consistent with an evolutionary decline in inner disc frequency with age. However, BD disc fractions are higher than those for the stars in 1-3 Myr clusters, but very low in the ~5 Myr old USco. Also, primordial BD discs are still visible in the ~10 Myr TW Hydrae association, whereas the higher mass stars have all transitioned to the debris stage by this age. The disc frequencies for BDs do not show any dependence on the stellar density or the BD/star number ratio in a cluster. We suggest that the large differences in the observed BD disc fractions between regions may well be due to different BD formation mechanisms and therefore different initial disc fractions/properties.
We also present a WISE SED classification scheme, based on the Ks and WISE bands of 3.4-12micron, to distinguish between the Class I/II and the Class III sequence. Our work includes a comparison of the sensitivities of WISE and Spitzer disc surveys. We estimate that WISE can be incomplete for discs at SpT later than M8 in distant clusters such as SOri. WISE should be able to recover the M8-M9 discs in the nearby young clusters
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2497-2517
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • stars: low-mass, open clusters and associations: individual: Upper Scorpius OB association
  • brown dwarfs
  • circumstellar matter


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