A full understanding of the properties of substellar objects is one of the major challenges facing astrophysics. Since their discovery in 1995, hundreds of brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets have been discovered. While these discoveries have enabled important comparisons with theory, observational progress has been much more rapid than the theoretical understanding of cool atmospheres. The reliable determination of mass, abundances, gravities and temperatures is not yet possible. The key problem is that substellar objects emit their observable radiation in the infrared region of the spectrum where our knowledge of atomic, molecular and line broadening data is poor. Here we report on the status of our PoSSO (Physics of SubStellar Objects) project. In order to understand brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets increasing more like those in our solar system, we are studying a wide range of processes. Here we give an update on the project and sketch an outline of atoms, molecules and processes requiring study.
- Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
- stars : structure
- planets : extrasolar