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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA101
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date6 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • Methods: data analysis
  • Methods: statistical


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