Detecting and quantifying stellar magnetic fields
Sparse Stokes profile approximation using orthogonal matching pursuit
Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik (AIP),
An der Sternwarte 16,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Received: 10 October 2013
Accepted: 15 November 2013
Context. In recent years, we have seen a rapidly growing number of stellar magnetic field detections for various types of stars. Many of these magnetic fields are estimated from spectropolarimetric observations (Stokes V) by using the so-called center-of-gravity (COG) method. Unfortunately, the accuracy of this method rapidly deteriorates with increasing noise and thus calls for a more robust procedure that combines signal detection and field estimation.
Aims. We introduce an estimation method that provides not only the effective or mean longitudinal magnetic field from an observed Stokes V profile but also uses the net absolute polarization of the profile to obtain an estimate of the apparent (i.e., velocity resolved) absolute longitudinal magnetic field.
Methods. By combining the COG method with an orthogonal-matching-pursuit (OMP) approach, we were able to decompose observed Stokes profiles with an overcomplete dictionary of wavelet-basis functions to reliably reconstruct the observed Stokes profiles in the presence of noise. The elementary wave functions of the sparse reconstruction process were utilized to estimate the effective longitudinal magnetic field and the apparent absolute longitudinal magnetic field. A multiresolution analysis complements the OMP algorithm to provide a robust detection and estimation method.
Results. An extensive Monte-Carlo simulation confirms the reliability and accuracy of the magnetic OMP approach where a mean error of under 2% is found. Its full potential is obtained for heavily noise-corrupted Stokes profiles with signal-to-noise variance ratios down to unity. In this case a conventional COG method yields a mean error for the effective longitudinal magnetic field of up to 50%, whereas the OMP method gives a maximum error of 18%. It is, moreover, shown that even in the case of very small residual noise on a level between 10-3 and 10-5, a regime reached by current multiline reconstruction techniques, the conventional COG method incorrectly interprets a large portion of the residual noise as a magnetic field, with values of up to 100 G. The magnetic OMP method, on the other hand, remains largely unaffected by the noise, regardless of the noise level the maximum error is no greater than 0.7 G.
Key words: stars: magnetic field / Sun: magnetic fields / radiative transfer / line: formation / line: profiles / polarization
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