Meeting the Cool Neighbors. VIII. A Preliminary 20 Parsec Census from the NLTT Catalogue
Continuing our census of late-type dwarfs in the Solar Neighbourhood, we present BVRI photometry and optical spectroscopy of 800 mid-type M dwarfs drawn from the NLTT proper motion catalogue. The targets are taken from both our own cross-referencing of the NLTT catalogue and the 2MASS Second Incremental release, and from the revised NLTT compiled by Salim & Gould (2003). All are identified as nearby-star candidates based on their location in the (m_r, (m_r-K_S)) diagram. Three hundred stars
... e hundred stars discussed here have previous astrometric, photometric or spectroscopic observations. We present new BVRI photometry for 101 stars, together with low resolution spectroscopy of a further 400 dwarfs. In total, we find that 241 stars are within 20 parsecs of the Sun, while a further 70 lie within 1-sigma of our distance limit. Combining the present results with previous analyses, we have quantitative observations for 1910 of the 1913 candidates in our NLTT nearby-star samples. Eight hundred and fifteen of those stars have distance estimates of 20 parsecs or less, including 312 additions to the local census. With our NLTT follow-up observations essentially complete, we have searched the literature for K and early-type M dwarfs within the sampling volume covered by the 2MASS Second Release. Comparing the resultant 20-parsec census against predicted numbers, derived from the 8-parsec luminosity function, shows an overall deficit of ~20% for stellar systems and ~35% for individual stars. Almost all are likely to be fainter than M_J=7, and at least half are probably companions of known nearby stars. Our results suggest that there are relatively few missing systems at the lowest luminosities, M_J > 8.5. We discuss possible means of identifying the missing stars.