EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 508, Number 2, December III 2009
Page(s) 877 - 887
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912944
Published online 04 November 2009
A&A 508, 877-887 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912944

On detecting the large separation in the autocorrelation of stellar oscillation times series

B. Mosser1 and T. Appourchaux2

1  LESIA, CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université Denis Diderot, Observatoire de Paris, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
    e-mail: benoit.mosser@obspm.fr
2  Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, UMR8617, Université Paris XI, Bâtiment 121, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France

Received 21 July 2009 / Accepted 7 October 2009

Context. The observations carried out by the space missions CoRoT and Kepler provide a large set of asteroseismic data. Their analysis requires an efficient procedure first to determine if a star reliably shows solar-like oscillations, second to measure the so-called large separation, third to estimate the asteroseismic information that can be retrieved from the Fourier spectrum.
Aims. In this paper we develop a procedure based on the autocorrelation of the seismic Fourier spectrum that is capable of providing measurements of the large and small frequency separations. The performance of the autocorrelation method needs to be assessed and quantified. We therefore searched for criteria able to predict the output that one can expect from the analysis by autocorrelation of a seismic time series.
Methods. First, the autocorrelation is properly scaled to take into account the contribution of white noise. Then we use the null hypothesis H0 test to assess the reliability of the autocorrelation analysis. Calculations based on solar and CoRoT time series are performed to quantify the performance as a function of the amplitude of the autocorrelation signal.
Results. We obtain an empirical relation for the performance of the autocorrelation method. We show that the precision of the method increases with the observation length, and with the mean seismic amplitude-to-background ratio of the pressure modes to the power 1.5 $\pm$ 0.05. We propose an automated determination of the large separation, whose reliability is quantified by the H0 test. We apply this method to analyze red giants observed by CoRoT. We estimate the expected performance for photometric time series of the Kepler mission. We demonstrate that the method makes it possible to distinguish $\ell$ = 0 from $\ell$ = 1 modes.
Conclusions. The envelope autocorrelation function (EACF) has proven to be very powerful for the determination of the large separation in noisy asteroseismic data, since it enables us to quantify the precision of the performance of different measurements: mean large separation, variation of the large separation with frequency, small separation and degree identification.

Key words: stars: oscillations -- stars: interiors -- methods: data analysis -- methods: analytical

© ESO 2009

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