Evaluating the stability of atmospheric lines with HARPS

P. Figueira, F. Pepe, C. Lovis, M. Mayor
2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
Context: In the search for extrasolar systems by radial velocity technique, a precise wavelength calibration is necessary for high-precision measurements. The choice of the calibrator is a particularly important question in the infra-red domain, where the precision and exploits still fall behind the achievements of the optical. Aims: We investigate the long-term stability of atmospheric lines as a precise wavelength reference and analyze their sensitivity to different atmospheric and observing
more » ... onditions. Methods: We use HARPS archive data on three bright stars, Tau Ceti, Mu Arae and Epsilon Eri, spanning 6 years and containing high-cadence measurements over several nights. We cross-correlate this data with an O2 mask and evaluate both radial velocity and bisector variations down to a photon noise of 1 m/s. Results: We find that the telluric lines in the three data-sets are stable down to 10 m/s (r.m.s.) over the 6 years. We also show that the radial velocity variations can be accounted for by simple atmospheric models, yielding a final precision of 1-2 m/s. Conclusions: The long-term stability of atmospheric lines was measured as being of 10 m/s over six years, in spite of atmospheric phenomena. Atmospheric lines can be used as a wavelength reference for short-time-scales programs, yielding a precision of 5 m/s "out-of-the box". A higher precision, down to 2 m/s can be reached if the atmospheric phenomena are corrected for by the simple atmospheric model described, making it a very competitive method even on long time-scales.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201014005 fatcat:3kctkljjp5bjxcu6iib2rannka