Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

Contributed Papers

Disentangling between stellar activity and planetary signals

Isabelle Boissea1a5, François Bouchya1a2, Guillaume Hébrarda1a2, Xavier Bonfilsa3a4, Nuno Santosa5 and Sylvie Vauclaira6

a1 Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, UMR7095 CNRS, 98bis bd. Arago, 75014 Paris, France email:

a2 Observatoire de Haute Provence, CNRS/OAMP, 04870 St Michel l'Observatoire, France

a3 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, Observatoire de Grenoble, Université Joseph Fourier, CNRS, UMR 5571, 38041, Grenoble Cedex 09, France

a4 Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 Ch. des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland

a5 Centro de Astrofísica, Universidade do Porto, Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto, Portugal

a6 LATT-UMR 5572, CNRS & Université P. Sabatier, 14 Av. E. Belin, F-31400 Toulouse, France


Photospheric stellar activity (i.e. dark spots or bright plages) might be an important source of noise and confusion in the radial-velocity (RV) measurements. Radial-velocimetry planet search surveys as well as follow-up of photometric transit surveys require a deeper understanding and characterization of the effects of stellar activities to disentangle it from planetary signals.

We simulate dark spots on a rotating stellar photosphere. The variations of the RV are characterized and analyzed according to the stellar inclination, the latitude and the number of spots. The Lomb-Scargle periodograms of the RV variations induced by activity present power at the rotational period Prot of the star and its two-first harmonics Prot/2 and Prot/3. Three adjusted sinusoids fixed at the fundamental period and its two-first harmonics allow to remove about 90% of the RV jitter amplitude. We apply and validate our approach on four known active planet-host stars: HD 189733, GJ 674, CoRoT-7 and ι Hor. We succeed in fitting simultaneously activity and planetary signals on GJ674 and CoRoT-7. We excluded short-period low-mass exoplanets around ι Hor. Our approach is efficient to disentangle reflex-motion due to a planetary companion and stellar-activity induced-RV variations provided that 1) the planetary orbital period is not close to that of the stellar rotation or one of its two-first harmonics, 2) the rotational period of the star is accurately known, 3) the data cover more than one stellar rotational period.

(Online publication August 26 2011)


  • techniques: radial velocities - planetary systems - stars: activity - stars: individual: ι Hor;
  • HD 189733;
  • GJ 674;
  • CoRoT-7