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In the classical approach to underwater passive listening, the medium is sampled in a convenient number of "look-directions" from which the signals are estimated in order to build an image of the noise field. In contrast, a modern trend is to consider the noise field as a global entity depending on few parameters to be estimated simultaneously. In a Gaussian context, it is worthwhile to consider the application of likelihood methods in order to derive a detection test for the number of sources and estimators for their locations and spectral levels. This paper aims to compute such estimators when the wavefront shapes are not assumed known a priori. This justifies results previously found using the asymptotical properties of the eigenvalue-eigenvector decomposition of the estimated spectral density matrix of the sensor signals: they have led to a variety of "high resolution" array processing methods. More specifically, a covariance matrix test for equality of the smallest eigenvalues is presented for source detection. For source localization, a "best fit" method and a test of orthogonality between the "smallest" eigenvectors and the "source" vectors are discussed.