Calibrating echelle spectrographs with Fabry-Pérot etalons
Institut für Astrophysik (IAG), Georg-August-Universität
Received: 4 May 2015
Accepted: 21 June 2015
Context. Over the past decades hollow-cathode lamps have been calibration standards for spectroscopic measurements. Advancing to cm/s radial velocity precisions with the next generation of instruments requires more suitable calibration sources with more lines and fewer dynamic range problems. Fabry-Pérot interferometers provide a regular and dense grid of lines and homogeneous amplitudes, which makes them good candidates for next-generation calibrators.
Aims. We investigate the usefulness of Fabry-Pérot etalons in wavelength calibration, present an algorithm to incorporate the etalon spectrum in the wavelength solution, and examine potential problems.
Methods. The quasi-periodic pattern of Fabry-Pérot lines was used along with a hollow-cathode lamp to anchor the numerous spectral features on an absolute scale. We tested our method with the HARPS spectrograph and compared our wavelength solution to the one derived from a laser frequency comb.
Results. The combined hollow-cathode lamp/etalon calibration overcomes large distortion (50 m/s) in the wavelength solution of the HARPS data reduction software. The direct comparison to the laser frequency comb shows differences of only 10 m/s at most.
Conclusions. Combining hollow-cathode lamps with Fabry-Pérot interferometers can lead to substantial improvements in the wavelength calibration of echelle spectrographs. Etalons can provide economical alternatives to the laser frequency comb, especially for smaller projects.
Key words: instrumentation: interferometers / instrumentation: spectrographs / methods: data analysis / techniques: radial velocities
© ESO, 2015