Target selection of classical pulsating variables for space-based photometry

Authors. E. Plachy, L. Molnár, R. Szabó, K. Kolenberg, E. Bányai

Journal. Communications from the Konkoly Observatory, Vol. 105

Abstract. In a few years the Kepler and TESS missions will provide ultra- precise photometry for thousands of RR Lyrae and hundreds of Cepheid stars. In the extended Kepler mission all targets are proposed in the Guest Observer (GO) Program, while the TESS space telescope will work with full frame images and a ~15-16th mag brightness limit with the possibility of short cadence measurements for a limited number of pre-selected objects. This paper highlights some details of the enormous and important work of the target selection process made by the members of Working Group 7 (WG#7) of the Kepler and TESS Asteroseismic Science Consortium.

Links. NASA ADS, arXiv

Population synthesis of RR Lyrae stars in the original Kepler and K2 fields of view

Authors. Ottó Hanyecz, Róbert Szabó

Journal. Communications from the Konkoly Observatory, Vol. 105

Abstract. It is interesting to ask what fraction of the total available RR Lyrae (RRL) sample that falls in the Kepler and K2 Fields of View (FoV) is known or discovered. In order to answer this question we compared the known RRL sam- ple in the Kepler and K2 fields with synthetic Galactic models. The Catalina Sky Survey RRL sample was used to calibrate our method. We found that a large number of faint RRL stars is missing from Kepler and K2 fields.

Links. NASA ADS, arXiv

Postdoc in gyrochronology and asteroseismology

The “Stellar Ages and Galactic Evolution” (SAGE independent research group based at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS in Göttingen invites experts in gyrochronology and asteroseismology to apply for a postdoctoral position funded by an ERC starting grant. The position is for 2 years starting October 1, 2016 or earlier. Payment and benefits are according to German TVÖD.

The Position

The SAGE research group is a vibrant and young group consisting of experts in asteroseismology, stellar evolution, Milky Way structure and computer science. The group now seeks an expert in gyrochronology and asteroseismology to derive (differential) rotational profiles and ages of main-sequence stars, subgiants and red-giant stars in the framework of the ERC starting grant “Stellar Ages”. For further information and inquiries about this project please contact Saskia Hekker (

Your profile

We seek a motivated candidate with a PhD in astronomy and knowledge and skills in gyrochronology and asteroseismology. Applicants should have published research results in high-impact journals, demonstrated creativity, independence, high motivation, good communication skills, and has the ability to work independently as well as with other members of our research group.

Your application

Please send your application including
• a cover letter summarizing your qualifications and your motivation to work on the project,
• a CV with a full publication list, and
• names and contacts of two to three references.
The application should be submitted electronically as one file to Saskia Hekker ( with “Job application ERC-Gyro” in the subject line. Applications received by July 1, 2016 will receive full consideration. Review of the applications will continue until a suitable candidate is found.
The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more handicapped individuals and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are under-represented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Closing Date: 01.07.2016

Contact:  Saskia Hekker,

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Justus-von-Liebig Weg 3
37077 Göttingen

SAGE group, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Goettingen, Germany

Staff scientist in solar/stellar physics – can become permanent

The Faculty of Physics at the University of Goettingen invites applications for a Staff scientist in solar/stellar physics at the Institute for Astrophysics. The staff scientist position is full time and for an initial period of two years, after which it can become permanent subject to a successful performance review. The position should be filled in 2016; the start date is negotiable. Remuneration: pay grade E13 TV-L on the German civil service salary scale.

Your duties

• Contribute to teaching activities as defined in Section 31 of the Higher Education Act of Lower Saxony (NHG) and to the organization of examinations.

• Carry out support tasks for the physics faculty, for example, administer computer systems at the Institute for Astrophysics.

• Perform research in one or more of the following research areas:

– solar and/or stellar physics;
– helioseismology and/or asteroseismology;
– exoplanets and their host stars;
– computational physics;
– applied mathematics.

Your profile

• A proven track record of scientific achievements

• A genuine interest in teaching

• Excellent communication skills and the ability to work in a team

• A doctoral degree

The University of Goettingen is an equal opportunities employer and places particular emphasis on fostering career opportunities for women. Qualified women are therefore strongly encouraged to apply as they are under-represented in this field. The University firmly intends to raise the number of disabled persons in its employment. In the case of equally qualified applicants, disabled persons will be preferentially considered.

Please send your application with the usual documents by 1st July 2016 to as a single PDF file. For questions please contact Please see the University of Goettingen’s website for the full job advertisement:

Goettingen calls itself ‘City of Science’. Its international academic reputation attracts researchers and students from all over the world, making this town a lively centre in the heart of Germany. To find out more about living in Goettingen, see

Closing Date: 01.07.16

University of Goettingen
Goettingen, Germany
Please contact:

Asteroseismology of 19 low-luminosity red giant stars from Kepler

Authors. F. Perez Hernandez, R. A. Garcia, E. Corsaro, S. A. Triana, J. De Ridder

JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics

Abstract. Frequencies of acoustic and mixed modes in red giant stars are now determined with high precision thanks to the long continuous observations provided by the NASA Kepler mission. Here we consider the eigenfrequencies of nineteen low-luminosity red giant stars selected by Corsaro et al. (2015) for a detailed peak-bagging analysis. Our objective is to obtain stellar parameters by using individual mode frequencies and spectroscopic information. We use a forward modelling technique based on a minimization procedure combining the frequencies of the p modes, the period spacing of the dipolar modes, and the spectroscopic data. Consistent results between the forward modelling technique and values derived from the seismic scaling relations are found but the errors derived using the former technique are lower. The average error for log g is 0.002 dex, compared to 0.011 dex from the frequency of maximum power and 0.10 dex from the spectroscopic analysis. Relative errors in the masses and radii are on average 2 and 0.5 per cent respectively, compared to 3 and 2 per cent derived from the scaling relations. No reliable determination of the initial helium abundances and the mixing length parameters could be made. Finally, for our grid of models with a given input physics, we found that low-mass stars require higher values of the overshooting parameter.

Links. A&ANASA ADS, arXiv

The shrinking Sun: a systematic error in local correlation tracking of solar granulation

Authors. B. Löptien, A. C. Birch, T. L. Duvall Jr., L. Gizon, J. Schou

JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics

Abstract. Context. Local correlation tracking of granulation (LCT) is an important method for measuring horizontal flows in the photosphere. This method exhibits a systematic error that looks like a flow converging towards disk center, also known as the shrinking-Sun effect.
Aims. We aim at studying the nature of the shrinking-Sun effect for continuum intensity data and at deriving a simple model that can explain its origin.
Methods. We derived LCT flow maps by running the local correlation tracking code FLCT on tracked and remapped continuum intensity maps provided by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory. We also computed flow maps from synthetic continuum images generated from STAGGER code simulations of solar surface convection. We investigated the origin of the shrinking-Sun effect by generating an average granule from synthetic data from the simulations.
Results. The LCT flow maps derived from HMI and from the simulations exhibit a shrinking-Sun effect of comparable magnitude. The origin of this effect is related to the apparent asymmetry of granulation originating from radiative transfer effects when observing with a viewing angle inclined from vertical. This causes, in combination with the expansion of the granules, an apparent motion towards disk center.

Links. A&ANASA ADS, arXiv

Sensitivity Kernels for Flows in Time-Distance Helioseismology: Extension to Spherical Geometry

Authors. Vincent G. A. Böning, Markus Roth, Wolfgang Zima, Aaron C. Birch, Laurent Gizon

Journal. The Astrophysical Journal

Abstract. We extend an existing Born approximation method for calculating the linear sensitivity of helioseismic travel times to flows from Cartesian to spherical geometry. This development is necessary for using the Born approximation for inferring large-scale flows in the deep solar interior. In a first sanity check, we compare two fmode kernels from our spherical method and from an existing Cartesian method. The horizontal and total integrals agree to within 0.3 %. As a second consistency test, we consider a uniformly rotating Sun and a travel distance of 42 degrees. The analytical travel-time difference agrees with the forward-modelled travel-time difference to within 2 %. In addition, we evaluate the impact of different choices of filter functions on the kernels for a meridional travel distance of 42 degrees. For all filters, the sensitivity is found to be distributed over a large fraction of the convection zone. We show that the kernels depend on the filter function employed in the data analysis process. If modes of higher harmonic degree (90l170) are permitted, a noisy pattern of a spatial scale corresponding to l260 appears near the surface. When mainly low-degree modes are used (l70), the sensitivity is concentrated in the deepest regions and it visually resembles a ray-path-like structure. Among the different low-degree filters used, we find the kernel for phase-speed filtered measurements to be best localized in depth.

Links. ApJNASA ADS, arXiv

Sub-Inertial Gravity Modes in the B8V Star KIC 7760680 Reveal Moderate Core Overshooting and Low Vertical Diffusive Mixing

Authors. Ehsan Moravveji, Richard H. D. Townsend, Conny Aerts, Stephane Mathis

Journal. The Astrophysical Journal

Abstract. KIC 7760680 is so far the richest slowly pulsating B star, by exhibiting 36 consecutive dipole (=1) gravity (g-) modes. The monotonically decreasing period spacing of the series, in addition to the local dips in the pattern confirm that KIC 7760680 is a moderate rotator, with clear mode trapping in chemically inhomogeneous layers. We employ the traditional approximation of rotation to incorporate rotational effects on g-mode frequencies. Our detailed forward asteroseismic modelling of this g-mode series reveals that KIC 7760680 is a moderately rotating B star with mass 3.25 M. By simultaneously matching the slope of the period spacing, and the number of modes in the observed frequency range, we deduce that the equatorial rotation frequency of KIC 7760680 is 0.4805 day1, which is 26\% of its Roche break up frequency. The relative deviation of the model frequencies and those observed is less than one percent. We succeed to tightly constrain the exponentially-decaying convective core overshooting parameter to fov0.024±0.001. This means that convective core overshooting can coexist with moderate rotation. Moreover, models with exponentially-decaying overshoot from the core outperform those with the classical step-function overshoot. The best value for extra diffusive mixing in the radiatively stable envelope is confined to logDext0.75±0.25 (with Dext in cm2 sec1), which is notably smaller than theoretical predictions.

Links. ApJNASA ADS, arXiv

SpaceInn hare-and-hounds exercise: Estimation of stellar properties using space-based asteroseismic data

Authors. D. R. Reese, W. J. Chaplin, G. R. Davies, A. Miglio, H. M. Antia, W. H. Ball, S. Basu, G. Buldgen, J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, H. R. Coelho, S. Hekker, G. Houdek, Y. Lebreton, A. Mazumdar, T. S. Metcalfe, V. Silva Aguirre, D. Stello, K. Verma

Journal. Astronomy & Astrophysics

Abstract. Context: Detailed oscillation spectra comprising individual frequencies for numerous solar-type stars and red giants are or will become available. These data can lead to a precise characterisation of stars.
Aims: Our goal is to test and compare different methods for obtaining stellar properties from oscillation frequencies and spectroscopic constraints, in order to evaluate their accuracy and the reliability of the error bars.
Methods: In the context of the SpaceInn network, we carried out a hare-and-hounds exercise in which one group produced “observed” oscillation spectra for 10 artificial solar-type stars, and various groups characterised these stars using either forward modelling or acoustic glitch signatures.
Results: Results based on the forward modelling approach were accurate to 1.5 % (radius), 3.9 % (mass), 23 % (age), 1.5 % (surface gravity), and 1.8 % (mean density). For the two 1 Msun stellar targets, the accuracy on the age is better than 10 % thereby satisfying PLATO 2.0 requirements. The average accuracies for the acoustic radii of the base of the convection zone, the He II ionisation, and the Gamma_1 peak were 17 %, 2.4 %, and 1.9 %, respectively. Glitch fitting analysis seemed to be affected by aliasing problems for some of the targets.
Conclusions: Forward modelling is the most accurate approach, but needs to be complemented by model-independent results from, e.g., glitch analysis. Furthermore, global optimisation algorithms provide more robust error bars.

Links. A&A, NASA ADS, arXiv

Chromatic line-profile tomography to reveal exoplanetary atmospheres: application to HD 189733b

Authors. Francesco Borsa, Monica Rainer, Ennio Poretti

Journal. Astronomy & Astrophysics

Abstract. Transmission spectroscopy can be used to constrain the properties of exoplanetary atmospheres. During a transit, the light blocked from the atmosphere of the planet leaves an imprint in the light coming from the star. This has been shown for many exoplanets with different techniques, with both photometry and spectroscopy. We aim at testing chromatic line-profile tomography as a new tool to investigate exoplanetary atmospheres. The signal imprinted on the cross-correlation function (CCF) by a planet transiting its star is dependent on the planet-to-star radius ratio. We want to verify if the precision reachable on the CCF obtained from a subset of the spectral orders of the HARPS spectrograph is enough to discriminate the radius of a planet at different wavelengths. Methods. We analyze HARPS archival data of three transits of HD 189733b. We divide the HARPS spectral range in 7 broadbands, calculating for each band the ratio between the area of the out-of-transit CCF and the area of the signal imprinted by the planet on it during the full part of the transit. We take into account the effect of the limb darkening using the theoretical coefficients of a linear law. Averaging the results of three different transits allows us to obtain a good quality broadband transmission spectrum of HD 189733b, with a precision greater than that of the chromatic RM effect. Results. We proved chromatic line-profile tomography to be an interesting way to reveal broadband transmission spectra of exoplanets: our analysis of the atmosphere of HD 189733b is in agreement with other ground- and space-based observations. The independent analysis of different transits puts in evidence the probability that stellar activity plays a role in the extracted transmission spectrum. Care has thus to be taken when claiming for Rayleigh scattering in the atmosphere of exoplanets orbiting active stars using only one transit.

Links. A&ANASA ADS, arXiv

Exploitation of Space Data for Innovative Helio- and Asteroseismology