OTS44: Disk and accretion at the planetary border

We discover that the very low-mass brown dwarf OTS44 (M9.5, ~12 M_Jup) has significant accretion and a substantial disk, which demonstrates that the processes that accompany canonical star formation occur down to a central mass of a few Jupiter masses. We discover in VLT/SINFONI spectra that OTS44 has strong, broad, and variable Paschen beta emission that is evidence for active accretion at the planetary border. We also detect strong Halpha emission of OTS44 in a literature spectrum and determine an Halpha EW (-141 A) that is indicative of active accretion. Both the Pa beta and Halpha emission lines have broad profiles with wings extending to velocities of about +/-200 km/s. We determine the mass accretion rate of OTS44 based on Halpha to 7.6×10^{-12} Msun/yr, which shows that OTS44 has a relatively high mass-accretion rate considering its small central mass. This mass rate is nevertheless consistent with the general decreasing trend found for stars of several solar masses down to brown dwarfs. Furthermore, we determine the properties of the disk surrounding OTS44 through radiative transfer modeling of flux measurement from the optical to the far-IR (Herschel) by applying a Bayesian analysis. We find that OTS44 has a highly flared disk (beta >1.2) with a mass of 9.1×10^{-5} M_Sun, i.e. about 0.1 M_Jup or 30 M_Earth. We show that the ratio of disk-to-central-mass of about 10^{-2} found for objects between 0.03 Msun and 14 Msun is also valid for OTS44 at a mass of ~0.01 M_Sun. Our observations are in line with an isolated star-like mode of the formation of brown dwarfs down to 0.01 M_Sun.

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Date added: Wed, 9 Oct 13