High-cadence spectroscopy of M-dwarfs – II. Searching for stellar pulsations with HARPS

Berdiñas, Z. M.; Rodríguez-López, C.; Amado, P. J.; Anglada-Escudé, G.; Barnes, J. R.; MacDonald, J.; Zechmeister, M. and Sarmiento, L. F. (2017). High-cadence spectroscopy of M-dwarfs – II. Searching for stellar pulsations with HARPS. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 469(4) pp. 4268–4282.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx1140


Stellar oscillations appear all across the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Recent theoretical studies support their existence also in the atmosphere of M dwarfs. These studies predict for them short periodicities ranging from 20 min to 3 h. Our Cool Tiny Beats (CTB) programme aims at finding these oscillations for the very first time. With this goal, CTB explores the short time domain of M dwarfs using radial velocity data from the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS)-European Southern Observatory and HARPS-N high-precision spectrographs. Here we present the results for the two most long-term stable targets observed to date with CTB, GJ 588 and GJ 699 (i.e. Barnard's star). In the first part of this work we detail the correction of several instrumental effects. These corrections are especially relevant when searching for subnight signals. Results show no significant signals in the range where M dwarfs pulsations were predicted. However, we estimate that stellar pulsations with amplitudes larger than ∼0.5 m s−1 can be detected with a 90 per cent completeness with our observations. This result, along with the excess of power regions detected in the periodograms, opens the possibility of non-resolved very low amplitude pulsation signals. Next generation more precise instrumentation would be required to detect such oscillations. However, the possibility of detecting pulsating M-dwarf stars with larger amplitudes is feasible due to the short size of the analysed sample. This motivates the need for completeness of the CTB survey.

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