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ERC documentation Gaia, brown dwarfs and cool neighbours: an M-, L- and T-dwarf Archive of Interest for Astrophysics mind map A - On-line forms B1 - Research proposal [extended synopsis, principal investigator] B2 - Research proposal [s-o-t-a and objectives, methodology, resources] Team J. A. Caballero (ES) [principal investigator] Collaborators [e-mail addresses] European Research Council ERC consolidator grant 2015 Info for applicants Participants portal About ERC europa.eu
Summary In 1995, the coolest stars known in the Galaxy had spectral type M9 V, and brown dwarfs were only a theoretical prediction. Twenty years later, astronomers have extended the famous OBAFGKM sequence to L, T and Y spectral types, which translate into an effective temperature range from 2200 K to only about 300 K, and found thousands of brown dwarfs in young open clusters, as companion to stars, or free floating in our solar neighbourhood.

In spite of the numerous works on late-type stars and brown dwarfs in the last two decades, there are still some major questions without definitive or precise answers, such as: Is there any universal slope of the substellar mass function? How do metallicity and age affect photospheres and colours? How do ultra-wide low-mass binaries form? Do the least massive stars have habitable exoplanets? To tackle these and numerous other issues, experts worldwide urgently need the most comprehensive, homogeneous, bias-free sample of cool and ultra-cool targets and of their astrophysical parameters.

I propose to take advantage of the forthcoming ESA's Gaia astrometric data releases, my long expertise on low-mass stars and brown dwarfs, multi-mode observations, astronomical databases and management, and the willing collaboration of numerous colleagues worldwide to set up MAIA, a public, exhaustive "M-, L- and T-dwarf Archive for Astrophysics". MAIA would far supersede, in size and accuracy, any previous cool dwarf catalogue and be an obligatory reference point for future low-mass star and brown dwarf studies. The ambitious project will not only service to the public, but also answer once for all the major open questions at the bottom of the main sequence and beyond.