Volume 645, January 2021
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||13 January 2021|
Auto-correlation functions of astrophysical processes, and their relation to Gaussian processes
Application to radial velocities of different starspot configurations
Institut de Ciències de l’Espai (ICE, CSIC), Campus UAB, Carrer de Can Magrans s/n,
08193 Bellaterra, Spain
2 Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC), 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Accepted: 23 November 2020
Context. Accounting for the effects of stellar magnetic phenomena is indispensable to fully exploit radial velocities (RVs) obtained using modern exoplanet-hunting spectrometers. Correlated time variations are often mitigated by non-trivial noise models in the framework of Gaussian processes. These models rely on fitting kernel functions that are motivated on mathematical grounds, and whose physical interpretation is often elusive.
Aims. We aim to establish a clear connection between stellar magnetic activity affecting RVs and their corresponding correlations with physical parameters, and compare this connection with kernels used in the literature.
Methods. We use simple activity models to investigate the relationship between the physical processes generating the signals and the covariances typically found in data, and to demonstrate the qualitative behaviour of this relationship. We use the StarSim code to calculate RVs of an M dwarf with different realistic evolving spot configurations. The auto-correlation function (ACF) of a synthetic data set shows a very specific behaviour and is explicitly related to the kernel. Gaussian process regression is performed using the quasi-periodic (QP) and simple harmonic oscillator kernels of the george and celerite codes, respectively. Comparison of the resulting kernels with the exact ACFs allows us to cross-match the kernel hyper-parameters with the introduced physical values, study the overall capabilities of the kernels, and improve their definition.
Results. We find that the QP kernel provides a more straightforward interpretation of the physics. It is able to consistently recover both the introduced rotation period Prot and the spot lifetime. Our study indicates that the performance can be enhanced by fixing the form factor w and adding a physically motivated cosine term with period Prot∕2, where the contribution to the ACF for the different spot configurations differs significantly. The newly proposed quasi-periodic with cosine (QPC) kernel leads to significantly better model likelihoods, can potentially distinguish between different spot configurations, and can thereby improve the sensitivity of RV exoplanet searches.
Key words: planets and satellites: detection / techniques: radial velocities / stars: activity / methods: data analysis
© ESO 2021
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.