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Title: Characterizing and Mitigating the Impact of Telluric Absorption in Precise Radial Velocities

Precise radial velocity (PRV) surveys are important for the search for Earth analogs around nearby bright stars, which induce a small stellar reflex motion with an RV amplitude of ∼10 cm s−1. Detecting such a small RV signal poses challenges to instrumentation, data analysis, and the precision of astrophysical models to mitigate stellar jitter. In this work, we investigate an important component in the PRV error budget—the spectral contamination from the Earth’s atmosphere (tellurics). We characterize the effects of telluric absorption on the RV precision and quantify its contribution to the RV error budget over time and across a wavelength range of 350 nm–2.5μm. We use simulated solar spectra with telluric contamination injected, and we extract the RVs using two commonly adopted algorithms: dividing out a telluric model before performing cross-correlation or forward modeling the observed spectrum incorporating a telluric model. We assume various degrees of cleanness in removing the tellurics. We conclude that the RV errors caused by telluric absorption can be suppressed to close to or even below 1–10 cm s−1in the blue optical region. At red through near-infrared wavelengths, however, the residuals of tellurics can induce an RV error on the meter-per-second level even under the more » most favorable assumptions for telluric removal, leading to significant systematic noise in the RV time series and periodograms. If the red-optical or near-infrared becomes critical in the mitigation of stellar activity, systematic errors from tellurics can be eliminated with a space mission such as EarthFinder.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astronomical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 211
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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