Proxima Centauri as a Benchmark for Stellar Activity Indicators in the Near Infrared

A new generation of dedicated Doppler spectrographs will attempt to detect low-mass exoplanets around mid-late M stars at near infrared (NIR) wavelengths, where those stars are brightest and have the most Doppler information content.

A central requirement for the success of these instruments is to properly measure the component of radial velocity (RV) variability contributed by stellar magnetic activity and to account for it in exoplanet models of RV data. The wavelength coverage for many of these new instruments will not include the Ca II H&K or H-alpha lines, the most frequently used absorption-line tracers of magnetic activity. Thus, it is necessary to define and characterize NIR activity indicators for mid-late M stars in order to provide simultaneous activity metrics for NIR RV data.

We have used the high-cadence UVES observations of the M5.5 dwarf Proxima Centauri from Fuhrmeister et al. (2011) to compare the activity sensitivity of 8 NIR atomic lines to that of H-alpha. We find that equivalent width-type measurements of the NIR K I doublet and the Ca II NIR triplet are excellent proxies for the canonical optical tracers. The Ca II triplet will be acquired by most of the new and upcoming NIR Doppler spectrographs, offering a common, reliable indicator of activity.

Paul Robertson, Chad Bender, Suvrath Mahadevan, Arpita Roy, Lawrence W. Ramsey
(Submitted on 22 Aug 2016)

Comments: Submitted to the Astrophysical Journal
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1608.06291 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1608.06291v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Paul Robertson
[v1] Mon, 22 Aug 2016 20:00:05 GMT (406kb,D)

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