Journal. Astronomy & Astrophysics
Abstract. Our poor understanding of the boundaries of convective cores generates large uncertainties on the extent of these cores and thus on stellar ages. Our aim is to use asteroseismology to consistently measure the extent of convective cores in a sample of main-sequence stars whose masses lie around the mass-limit for having a convective core. We first test and validate a seismic diagnostic that was proposed to probe in a model-dependent way the extent of convective cores using the so-called r010ratios, which are built with l=0 and l=1 modes. We apply this procedure to 24 low-mass stars chosen among Kepler targets to optimize the efficiency of this diagnostic. For this purpose, we compute grids of stellar models with both the CESAM2k and MESA evolution codes, where the extensions of convective cores are modeled either by an instantaneous mixing or as a diffusion process. Among the selected targets, we are able to unambiguously detect convective cores in eight stars and we obtain seismic measurements of the extent of the mixed core in these targets with a good agreement between the CESAM2k and MESA codes. By performing optimizations using the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm, we then obtain estimates of the amount of extra-mixing beyond the core that is required in CESAM2k to reproduce seismic observations for these eight stars and we show that this can be used to propose a calibration of this quantity. This calibration depends on the prescription chosen for the extra-mixing, but we find that it should be valid also for the code MESA, provided the same prescription is used. This study constitutes a first step towards the calibration of the extension of convective cores in low-mass stars, which will help reduce the uncertainties on the ages of these stars.