A maximum-likelihood method for fitting colour-magnitude diagrams
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press for Royal Astronomical Society
We present a maximum-likelihood method for fitting two-dimensional model distributions to stellar data in colour–magnitude space. This allows one to include (for example) binary stars in an isochronal population. The method also allows one to derive formal uncertainties for fitted parameters, and assess the likelihood that a good fit has been found. We use the method to derive an age of 38.5+3.5−6.5 Myr and a true distance modulus of 7.79+0.11−0.05 mag from the V versus V−I diagram of NGC 2547 (the uncertainties are 67 per cent confidence limits, and the parameters are insensitive to the assumed binary fraction). These values are consistent with those previously determined from low-mass isochronal fitting, and are the first measurements to have statistically meaningful uncertainties. The age is also consistent with the lithium depletion age of NGC 2547, and the Hipparcos distance to the cluster is consistent with our value. The method appears to be quite general and could be applied to any N-dimensional data set, with uncertainties in each dimension. However, it is particularly useful when the data are sparse, in the sense that both the typical uncertainties for a data point and the size of structure in the function being fitted are small compared with the typical distance between data points. In this case binning the data will lose resolution, whilst the method presented here preserves it. Software implementing the methods described in this paper is available from http://www.astro.ex.ac.uk/people/timn/tau-squared/.
Provided a solution to the long-standing problem of extracting parameters from isochrone fitting for colour-magnitude diagrams. Naylor originated the idea, carried out the simulations and wrote the paper. Jeffries provided the models.
Copyright ©: 2006 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Vol. 373 (3), pp. 1251 - 1263