Surface spots on cool giant stars probed by spectro-astrometry


Spectro-astrometry is a technique to obtain information about the structure of an astronomical source on sub-diffraction limited spatial scales down to milli- or micro-arcseconds. The method exploits the shift of the photocentre of a structured source over emission/absorption lines in its spectral energy distribution. Sub-diffraction limited resolution can be achieved because the method only uses wavelength-differential information of longslit spectra. Although spectro-astrometry has already been devised by Bailey (1998) and some studies have been performed to date on different astronomic targets, so far, no systematic analysis of the potential of this technique has been undertaken. The aim of this work was to analyse the potential of the method, develop the tools to exploit this potential and write the software which is needed to perform the analysis procedure. To verify the practical feasibility, observations were done with the VLT/CRIRES facility to demonstrate the capabilities of the method with respect to detecting structures on giant star surfaces. All steps of data reduction were analysed with respect to their influence on the spectro-astrometric quantities and a new method for bad pixel detection was devised and implemented ...
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