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FOURIER ANALYSIS OF SPECTRAL LINE PROFILES: A NEW TOOL FOR AN OLD ART

MYRON A. SMITH and DAVID F. GRAY
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Vol. 88, No. 526 (December 1976), pp. 809-823
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40676029
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
FOURIER ANALYSIS OF SPECTRAL LINE PROFILES: A NEW TOOL FOR AN OLD ART
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Abstract

Fourier transforms have become a powerful tool for many astronomical endeavors. In this paper recent applications of this technique to the study of spectral line profiles are reviewed. The primary benefits of Fourier analysis are that astrophysical signatures are often more easily detected, that the convolution theorem can be applied, and that the behavior of random noise is simple. This last point allows objective error bars to be placed on velocity fields modeled to the data. It is generally found that these error bars are two to three times smaller than those estimated by visual comparisons of model and observed profiles. Although Fourier analysis is not preferable for certain classes of problems, these advantages can be exploited for many situations. We consider specifically the analysis of rotation, turbulence, and magnetic fields from single stellar lines as well as the analysis of velocity dispersions and radial velocities from integrated spectra of galaxies. Finally, it is pointed out that Fourier techniques can be used to extract the most information from spectroscopie data both before and after astronomical observations are made. It can be expected that the increasing availability of high-quality data will bring about an expanded use of this technique in the near future.

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