Modelling telluric line spectra in the optical and infrared with an application to VLT/X-Shooter spectra⋆,⋆⋆
Hamburger Sternwarte, University of Hamburg,
2 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
4 ESTEC/ESA, Keplerlaan 1, 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Received: 25 September 2013
Accepted: 12 October 2015
Context. Earth’s atmosphere imprints a large number of telluric absorption and emission lines on astronomical spectra, especially in the near infrared, that need to be removed before analysing the affected wavelength regions.
Aims. These lines are typically removed by comparison to A- or B-type stars used as telluric standards that themselves have strong hydrogen lines, which complicates the removal of telluric lines. We have developed a method to circumvent that problem.
Methods. For our IDL software package tellrem we used a recent approach to model telluric absorption features with the line-by-line radiative transfer model (LBLRTM). The broad wavelength coverage of the X-Shooter at VLT allows us to expand their technique by determining the abundances of the most important telluric molecules H2O, O2, CO2, and CH4 from sufficiently isolated line groups. For individual observations we construct a telluric absorption model for most of the spectral range that is used to remove the telluric absorption from the object spectrum.
Results. We remove telluric absorption from both continuum regions and emission lines without systematic residuals for most of the processable spectral range; however, our method increases the statistical errors. The errors of the corrected spectrum typically increase by 10% for S/N ~ 10 and by a factor of two for high-quality data (S/N ~ 100), i.e. the method is accurate on the percent level.
Conclusions. Modelling telluric absorption can be an alternative to the observation of standard stars for removing telluric contamination.
Key words: atmospheric effects / instrumentation: spectrographs / methods: observational / methods: data analysis
Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Chile, 085.C-0764(A) and 60.A-9022(C).
The tellrem package is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (220.127.116.11) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/585/A113
© ESO, 2016