Volume 601, May 2017
|Number of page(s)||17|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||11 May 2017|
The effect of ISM absorption on stellar activity measurements and its relevance for exoplanet studies
1 Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Schmiedlstrasse 6, 8042 Graz, Austria
2 School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
3 Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, 600 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
4 Department of Economics and Business – University of Catania, Corso Italia, 55, 95100 Catania, Italy
5 Departamento de Astronomia, Universidad de Chile, Camino el Observatorio 1515, Las Condes, Santiago, Casilla 36-D, Chile
6 Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1629 East University Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85721-0092, USA
7 INAF–Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, via S. Sofia, 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
8 Wesleyan University Astronomy Department, Van Vleck Observatory, 96 Foss Hill Drive, Middletown, CT 06459, USA
9 Institute for Physics/IGAM, NAWI Graz, Karl-Franzens-Universität, Universitätsplatz 5/II, 8010 Graz, Austria
Received: 23 December 2016
Accepted: 7 February 2017
Past ultraviolet and optical observations of stars hosting close-in Jupiter-mass planets have shown that some of these stars present an anomalously low chromospheric activity, significantly below the basal level. For the hot Jupiter planet host WASP-13, observations have shown that the apparent lack of activity is possibly caused by absorption from the intervening interstellar medium (ISM). Inspired by this result, we study the effect of ISM absorption on activity measurements (S and log R 'HK indices) for main-sequence late-type stars. To this end, we employ synthetic stellar photospheric spectra combined with varying amounts of chromospheric emission and ISM absorption. We present the effect of ISM absorption on activity measurements by varying several instrumental (spectral resolution), stellar (projected rotational velocity, effective temperature, and chromospheric emission flux), and ISM parameters (relative velocity between stellar and ISM Ca ii lines, broadening b-parameter, and Ca ii column density). We find that for relative velocities between the stellar and ISM lines smaller than 30–40 km s-1 and for ISM Ca ii column densities log NCaII ⪆ 12, the ISM absorption has a significant influence on activity measurements. Direct measurements and three dimensional maps of the Galactic ISM absorption indicate that an ISM Ca ii column density of log NCaII = 12 is typically reached by a distance of about 100 pc along most sight lines. In particular, for a Sun-like star lying at a distance greater than 100 pc, we expect a depression (bias) in the log R 'HK value larger than 0.05–0.1 dex, about the same size as the typical measurement and calibration uncertainties on this parameter. This work shows that the bias introduced by ISM absorption must always be considered when measuring activity for stars lying beyond 100 pc. We also consider the effect of multiple ISM absorption components. We discuss the relevance of this result for exoplanet studies and revise the latest results on stellar activity versus planet surface gravity correlation. We finally describe methods with which it would be possible to account for ISM absorption in activity measurements and provide a code to roughly estimate the magnitude of the bias. Correcting for the ISM absorption bias may allow one to identify the origin of the anomaly in the activity measured for some planet-hosting stars.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: chromospheres / stars: late-type / ISM: general / planets and satellites: general
© ESO, 2017
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