The SONYC survey: Towards a complete census of brown dwarfs in star forming regions

Muzic, K.; Scholz, A.; Jayawardhana, R.; Geers, V. C.; Dawson, P.; Ray, T. P.; Tamura, M.
XIV Latin American Regional IAU Meeting (Eds. A. Mateus, J. Gregorio-Hetem & R. Cid Fernandes) Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica (Serie de Conferencias) Vol. 44, pp. 141-142 (2014).


Deep surveys of star forming regions are the backbone of observational studies on the origin of stars and planets: On one side, they provide large and homogeneous object samples required to study disks, accretion, and multiplicity. On the other side, such surveys determine the shape and the low-mass limit of the Initial Mass Function (IMF), which are fundamental constraints on star formation theory. SONYC, short for ``Substellar Objects in Nearby Young Clusters", is an ongoing project to provide a census of the substellar population in nearby star forming regions. We have conducted deep optical and near-infrared photometry, combined with proper motions, and followed by extensive spectroscopic follow-up campaigns with Subaru and VLT, in which we have obtained more than 700 spectra of candidate objects in NGC1333, ρ Ophiuchi, Chamaeleon-I, Upper Sco, and Lupus-3. We have identified and characterized more than 60 new substellar objects, among them a handful of objects with masses close to, or below the Deuterium burning limit. Thanks to the SONYC survey and the efforts of other groups, the substellar IMF is now well characterized down to ˜ 5 - 10 M_{J}, and we find that the ratio of the number of stars with respect to brown dwarfs lies between 2 ad 6. Another important piece of information for the star formation theories is that, down to ˜ 5 M_J, the free-floating objects with planetary masses are 20-50 times less numerous than stars, so that their total contribution to the mass budget of the clusters can be neglected. In this contribution we will present the status of the SONYC survey, discuss its main results, and focus on the latest findings in NGC1333, Lupus-3 and Upper-Sco.