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    We present Gemini South/IGRINS observations of the 1060 K T6 dwarf 2MASS J08173001−6155158 with unprecedented resolution ($R\equiv \lambda /\Delta \lambda =45\, 000$) and signal-to-noise ratio (S/N > 200) for a late-type T dwarf. We use this benchmark observation to test the reliability of molecular line lists used up-to-date atmospheric models. We determine which spectroscopic regions should be used to estimate the parameters of cold brown dwarfs and, by extension, exoplanets. We present a detailed spectroscopic atlas with molecular identifications across the H and K bands of the near-infrared. We find that water (H2O) line lists are overall reliable. We find the most discrepancies amongst older methane (CH4) line lists, and that the most up-to-date CH4 line lists correct many of these issues. We identify individual ammonia (NH3) lines, a hydrogen sulfide (H2S) feature at 1.5900 $\mu$m, and a molecular hydrogen (H2) feature at 2.1218 $\mu$m. These are the first unambiguous detections of H2S and H2 absorption features in an extra-solar atmosphere. With the H2 detection, we place an upper limit on the atmospheric dust concentration of this T6 dwarf: at least 500 times less than the interstellar value, implying that the atmosphere is effectively dust-free. We additionally identify several features that do not appear in the model spectra. Our assessment of the line lists is valuable for atmospheric model applications to high-dispersion, low-S/N, high-background spectra, such as an exoplanet around a star. We demonstrate a significant enhancement in the detection of the CH4 absorption signal in this T6 dwarf with the most up-to-date line lists.

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  2. Abstract The photometric and spectral variability of brown dwarfs probes heterogeneous temperature and cloud distributions and traces the atmospheric circulation patterns. We present a new 42 hr Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Camera 3 G141 spectral time series of VHS 1256-1257 b, a late L-type planetary-mass companion that has been shown to have one of the highest variability amplitudes among substellar objects. The light curve is rapidly evolving and best fit by a combination of three sine waves with different periods and a linear trend. The amplitudes of the sine waves and the linear slope vary with the wavelength, and the corresponding spectral variability patterns match the predictions by models invoking either heterogeneous clouds or thermal profile anomalies. Combining these observations with previous HST monitoring data, we find that the peak-to-valley flux difference is 33% ± 2% with an even higher amplitude reaching 38% in the J band, the highest amplitude ever observed in a substellar object. The observed light curve can be explained by maps that are composed of zonal waves, spots, or a mixture of the two. Distinguishing the origin of rapid light curve evolution requires additional long-term monitoring. Our findings underscore the essential role of atmospheric dynamics in shaping brown-dwarf atmospheres and highlight VHS 1256-1257 b as one of the most favorable targets for studying the atmospheres, clouds, and atmospheric circulation of planets and brown dwarfs. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 7, 2023
  3. ABSTRACT We demonstrate that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can detect infrared (IR) excess from the blended light spectral energy distribution of spatially unresolved terrestrial exoplanets orbiting nearby white dwarfs. We find that JWST is capable of detecting warm (habitable-zone; Teq = 287 K) Earths or super-Earths and hot (400–1000 K) Mercury analogues in the blended light spectrum around the nearest 15 isolated white dwarfs with 10 h of integration per target using MIRI’s medium-resolution spectrograph (MRS). Further, these observations constrain the presence of a CO2-dominated atmosphere on these planets. The technique is nearly insensitive to system inclination, and thus observation of even a small sample of white dwarfs could place strong limits on the occurrence rates of warm terrestrial exoplanets around white dwarfs in the solar neighbourhood. We find that JWST can also detect exceptionally cold (100–150 K) Jupiter-sized exoplanets via MIRI broad-band imaging at $\lambda = 21\, \mathrm{\mu m}$ for the 34 nearest (<13 pc) solitary white dwarfs with 2 h of integration time per target. Using IR excess to detect thermal variations with orbital phase or spectral absorption features within the atmosphere, both of which are possible with long-baseline MRS observations, would confirm candidates as actual exoplanets. Assuming an Earth-like atmospheric composition, we find that the detection of the biosignature pair O3+CH4 is possible for all habitable-zone Earths (within 6.5 pc; six white dwarf systems) or super-Earths (within 10 pc; 17 systems) orbiting white dwarfs with only 5–36 h of integration using MIRI’s low-resolution spectrometer. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 18, 2023
  4. Abstract We present the third discovery from the COol Companions ON Ultrawide orbiTS (COCONUTS) program, the COCONUTS-3 system, composed of the young M5 primary star UCAC4 374−046899 and the very red L6 dwarf WISEA J081322.19−152203.2. These two objects have a projected separation of 61 ′ ′ (1891 au) and are physically associated given their common proper motions and estimated distances. The primary star, COCONUTS-3A, has a mass of 0.123 ± 0.006 M ⊙ , and we estimate its age as 100 Myr to 1 Gyr based on its stellar activity (via H α and X-ray emission), kinematics, and spectrophotometric properties. We derive its bulk metallicity as 0.21 ± 0.07 dex using empirical calibrations established by older and higher-gravity M dwarfs and find that this [Fe/H] could be slightly underestimated according to PHOENIX models given COCONUTS-3A’s younger age. The companion, COCONUTS-3B, has a near-infrared spectral type of L6 ± 1 int-g , and we infer physical properties of T eff = 1362 − 73 + 48 K, log ( g ) = 4.96 − 0.34 + 0.15 dex, R = 1.03 − 0.06 + 0.12 R Jup , and M = 39 − 18 + 11 M Jup using its bolometric luminosity, its host star’s age, and hot-start evolution models. We construct cloudy atmospheric model spectra at the evolution-based physical parameters and compare them to COCONUTS-3B’s spectrophotometry. We find that this companion possesses ample condensate clouds in its photosphere ( f sed = 1) with the data–model discrepancies likely due to the models using an older version of the opacity database. Compared to field-age L6 dwarfs, COCONUTS-3B has fainter absolute magnitudes and a 120 K cooler T eff . Also, the J − K color of this companion is among the reddest for ultracool benchmarks with ages older than a few hundred megayears. COCONUTS-3 likely formed in the same fashion as stellar binaries given the companion-to-host mass ratio of 0.3 and represents a valuable benchmark to quantify the systematics of substellar model atmospheres. 
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  5. Abstract Exoplanet and brown dwarf atmospheres commonly show signs of disequilibrium chemistry. In the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) era, high-resolution spectra of directly imaged exoplanets will allow the characterization of their atmospheres in more detail, and allow systematic tests for the presence of chemical species that deviate from thermochemical equilibrium in these atmospheres. Constraining the presence of disequilibrium chemistry in these atmospheres as a function of parameters such as their effective temperature and surface gravity will allow us to place better constraints on the physics governing these atmospheres. This paper is part of a series of works presenting the Sonora grid of atmosphere models. In this paper, we present a grid of cloud-free, solar metallicity atmospheres for brown dwarfs and wide-separation giant planets with key molecular species such as CH 4 , H 2 O, CO, and NH 3 in disequilibrium. Our grid covers atmospheres with T eff ∈ [500 K, 1300 K], log g ∈ [3.0, 5.5] (cgs) and an eddy diffusion parameter of log K zz = 2 , 4 and 7 (cgs). We study the effect of different parameters within the grid on the temperature and composition profiles of our atmospheres. We discuss their effect on the near-infrared colors of our model atmospheres and the detectability of CH 4 , H 2 O, CO, and NH 3 using the JWST. We compare our models against existing MKO and Spitzer observations of brown dwarfs and verify the importance of disequilibrium chemistry for T dwarf atmospheres. Finally, we discuss how our models can help constrain the vertical structure and chemical composition of these atmospheres. 
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  6. null (Ed.)