University of Chicago Press for the American Astronomical Society
Astrophysical Journal vol:749 issue:2
Recent developments in instrumentation (e.g., in particular the Kepler and CoRoT satellites) provide a new opportunity to improve the models of stellar pulsations. Surface layers, rotation, and magnetic fields imprint erratic frequency shifts, trends, and other non-random behavior in the frequency spectra. As our observational uncertainties become smaller, these are increasingly important and difficult to deal with using standard fitting techniques. To improve the models, new ways to compare their predictions with observations need to be conceived. In this paper, we present a completely probabilistic (Bayesian) approach to asteroseismic model fitting. It allows for varying degrees of prior mode identification, corrections for the discrete nature of the grid, and most importantly implements a treatment of systematic errors, such as the "surface effects." It removes the need to apply semi-empirical corrections to the observations prior to fitting them to the models and results in a consistent set of probabilities with which the model physics can be probed and compared. As an example, we show a detailed asteroseismic analysis of the Sun. We find a most probable solar age, including a 35 ± 5 million year pre-main-sequence phase, of 4.591 billion years, and initial element mass fractions of X 0 = 0.72, Y 0 = 0.264, Z 0 = 0.016, consistent with recent asteroseismic and non-asteroseismic studies.