Empirical calibrations of optical absorption-line indices based on the stellar library MILES

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Stellar population models of absorption-line indices are an important tool for the analysis of stellar population spectra. They are most accurately modelled through empirical calibrations of absorption-line indices with the stellar parameters such as effective temperature, metallicity and surface gravity, which are the so-called fitting functions. Here we present new empirical fitting functions for the 25 optical Lick absorption-line indices based on the new stellar library Medium resolution INT Library of Empirical Spectra (MILES). The major improvements with respect to the Lick/IDS library are the better sampling of stellar parameter space, a generally higher signal-to-noise ratio and a careful flux calibration. In fact, we find that errors on individual index measurements in MILES are considerably smaller than in Lick/IDS. Instead, we find the rms of the residuals between the final fitting functions and the data to be dominated by errors in the stellar parameters. We provide fitting functions for both Lick/IDS and MILES spectral resolutions and compare our results with other fitting functions in the literature. A fortran 90 code is available online in order to simplify the implementation in stellar population models. We further calculate the offsets in index measurements between the Lick/IDS system to a flux-calibrated system. For this purpose, we use the three libraries MILES, ELODIE and STELIB. We find that offsets are negligible in some cases, most notably for the widely used indices Hβ, Mgb, Fe5270 and Fe5335. In a number of cases, however, the difference between the flux-calibrated library and Lick/IDS is significant with the offsets depending on index strengths. Interestingly, there is no general agreement between the three libraries for a large number of indices, which hampers the derivation of a universal offset between the Lick/IDS and flux-calibrated systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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