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BGLS: A Bayesian formalism for the generalised Lomb-Scargle periodogram

A. Mortier, J. P. S. Faria, C. M. Correia, A. Santerne, N. C. Santos

Abstract
Context. Frequency analyses are very important in astronomy today, not least in the ever-growing field of exoplanets, where short-period signals in stellar radial velocity data are investigated. Periodograms are the main (and powerful) tools for this purpose. However, recovering the correct frequencies and assessing the probability of each frequency is not straightforward.
Aims.
We provide a formalism that is easy to implement in a code, to describe a Bayesian periodogram that includes weights and a constant offset in the data. The relative probability between peaks can be easily calculated with this formalism. We discuss the differences and agreements between the various periodogram formalisms with simulated examples.
Methods.
We used the Bayesian probability theory to describe the probability that a full sine function (including weights derived from the errors on the data values and a constant offset) with a specific frequency is present in the data.
Results.
From the expression for our Baysian generalised Lomb-Scargle periodogram (BGLS), we can easily recover the expression for the non-Bayesian version. In the simulated examples we show that this new formalism recovers the underlying periods better than previous versions. A Python-based code is available for the community.

Keywords
methods: data analysis – methods: statistica

Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 573, Number of pages A101_1
2015 January

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Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia