Extrasolar storms: Pressure-dependent changes in light-curve phase in brown dwarfs from simultaneous hst and Spitzer observations

Hao Yang, Daniel Apai, Mark S. Marley, Theodora Karalidi, Davin Flateau, Adam Showman, Stanimir Metchev, Esther Buenzli, Jacqueline Radigan, Étienne Artigau, Patrick J. Lowrance, Adam J. Burgasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


We present Spitzer/Infrared Array Camera Ch1 and Ch2 monitoring of six brown dwarfs during eight different epochs over the course of 20 months. For four brown dwarfs, we also obtained simulataneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/WFC3 G141 grism spectra during two epochs and derived light curves in five narrowband filters. Probing different pressure levels in the atmospheres, the multiwavelength light curves of our six targets all exhibit variations, and the shape of the light curves evolves over the timescale of a rotation period, ranging from 1.4 to 13 hr. We compare the shapes of the light curves and estimate the phase shifts between the light curves observed at different wavelengths by comparing the phase of the primary Fourier components. We use state-of-the-art atmosphere models to determine the flux contribution of different pressure layers to the observed flux in each filter. We find that the light curves that probe higher pressures are similar and in phase, but are offset and often different from the light curves that probe lower pressures. The phase differences between the two groups of light curves suggest that the modulations seen at lower and higher pressures may be introduced by different cloud layers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 20 2016



  • brown dwarfs
  • infrared: stars
  • stars: atmospheres
  • stars: low-mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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