Multiple codes are available to derive atmospheric parameters and individual chemical abundances from high-resolution spectra of AFGKM stars. Almost every spectroscopist has its own preferences regarding which code and method to use. But intrinsic differences between codes and methods lead to complex systematics that depend on multiple variables such as the selected spectral regions and the radiative transfer code used. I expanded iSpec, the popular open source spectroscopic tool, to support the most known radiative transfer codes and I assessed their similarities and biases when using multiple setups based on the equivalent width method and the synthetic spectral fitting technique (interpolating from a pre-computed grid of spectra or synthesizing with interpolated model atmospheres). This work shows that systematics on atmospheric parameter and abundances between most of the codes can be reduced when using the same method and a careful spectral feature selection is executed, but it may not be possible to ignore the remaining differences depending on what is the scientific case and the required precision. Regarding methods, equivalent width-based and spectrum fitting-analyses exhibit large differences that emerge due to their intrinsic differences, which is relevant given the popularity of these two methods. The results help us identify the key caveats of modern spectroscopy that any scientist should be aware of before trusting its own results or being tempted to combine atmospheric parameters and abundances from the literature.

Access to the article preprint and the ADS record.


The University of Wroclaw (Poland) is pleased to announce the international summer school "Spectroscopic data analysis with iSpec". That will take place in Wroclaw, Poland between 26 and 29 June 2018.

The aim of this school is to give participants a thorough introduction into the treatment and analysis of stellar spectra, including deriving the atmospheric parameters and the chemical abundances. The tool which will be used for this purpose is the code iSpec.

iSpec is a tool for the treatment and analysis of stellar spectra. Some of the main functionalities for spectra treatment and library creation that are integrated into iSpec are the following: cosmic rays removal, continuum normalization, resolution degradation, radial velocity determination and correction, telluric lines identification, re-sampling. iSpec is also capable of determining atmospheric parameters (i.e effective temperature, surface gravity, metallicity, micro/macroturbulence, rotation) and individual chemical abundances for FGKM stars by using two different approaches: synthetic spectra fitting technique or equivalent widths method. iSpec integrates MARCS and ATLAS model atmospheres together with the following radial transfer codes: SPECTRUM (R. O. Gray), Turbospectrum (Bertrand Plez), SME (Valenti & Piskunov), MOOG (Chris Sneden), and Synthe/WIDTH9 (Kurucz/Atmos). The user-friendly interface is perfect for learning and testing. However, to take advantage of the full potential, iSpec can be used from Python. This is the recommended way to use iSpec for complex scientific studies, it ensures reproducibility and give access to a wider range of functionalities and options.

The participants of the school "Spectroscopic data analysis with iSpec" will be given introductory lectures to iSpec and some hands-on experience with determination of the atmospheric parameters of A, F, G, K, and M type stars. The exercises will be based on publicly available stellar spectra as well as on pre-computed synthetic spectra.


iSpec has been updated thanks to the contribution of several users:

  • Bug fix: Parameter determination not working properly from the visual interface
  • Bug fix: SME spectra was not correctly re-sampled before applying convolutions
  • MOOG now always computes molecular equilibrium for the most important species
  • Air <-> Vacuum conversion changed to follow IAU standard and VALD3


iSpec now supports several radiative transfer codes: SPECTRUM, Turbospectrum, SME, MOOG and SYNTHE/WIDTH9.


New version with only minor bug fixes such as:

  • Continuum fit was failing when the user has the latest version of the python dependencies.
  • The "Find line masks" option from the visual interface was not working.
  • The pre-processing stage of the iSpec pipeline failed when run in parallel.