Context. Observations and analysis of solar-type oscillations in red-giant stars is an emerging aspect of asteroseismic analysis with a number of open questions yet to be explored. Although stochastic oscillations have previously been detected in red giants from both radial velocity and photometric measurements, those data were either too short or had sampling that was not complete enough to perform a detailed data analysis of the variability. The quality and quantity of photometric data as provided by the CoRoT satellite is necessary to provide a breakthrough in observing p-mode oscillations in red giants. We have analyzed continuous photometric time-series of about 11 400 relatively faint stars obtained in the exofield of CoRoT during the first 150 days long-run campaign from May to October 2007. We find several hundred stars showing a clear power excess in a frequency and amplitude range expected for red-giant pulsators. In this paper we present first results on a sub-sample of these stars.
Aims: Knowing reliable fundamental parameters like mass and radius is essential for detailed asteroseismic studies of red-giant stars. As the CoRoT exofield targets are relatively faint (11-16 mag) there are no (or only weak) constraints on the stars' location in the H-R diagram. We therefore aim to extract information about such fundamental parameters solely from the available time series.
Methods: We model the convective background noise and the power excess hump due to pulsation with a global model fit and deduce reliable estimates for the stellar mass and radius from scaling relations for the frequency of maximum oscillation power and the characteristic frequency separation.
Results: We provide a simple method to estimate stellar masses and radii for stars exhibiting solar-type oscillations. Our method is tested on a number of known solar-type pulsators.