Posts tagged Herschel Space Observatory
31 May 2012
Regular visitors to this, my boring technical blog, may be forgiven for thinking that nothing is going on. This is my fourth post here in two years, so that's an average of one post every eight months (think about it!). Now, I do want this blog to be boring in content (most people would think I'm succeeding in that), but not necessarily boring in that I never post anything. So here's an attempt to bring things up to speed...
What have I been doing for the past few years? Since October 2008 I've been working on data processing for the Herschel Space Observatory. In terms of the data, I've done a lot with HerMES, but more recently the focus has been on the software, working on a big Herschel software package, HIPE (about, download). As such—and much to my horror—I seem to be becoming a software developer. Java, to be more specific. Here are some things I've been working on recently:
27 Sep 2011
Well, it's finally here: HerMES: point source catalogues from deep Herschel-SPIRE observations, by yours truly and lots of other people otherwise known as "Al".
Some of the catalogues are available here, if you're interested.
The biggest challenge was confusion (about which there is a great deal of confusion). For example, in this HerMES image, everything you can see is light from galaxies, and each galaxy produces a small round blob in the image. The number of galaxies is so high, that light from any one galaxy is confused with light from numerous neighbouring galaxies.
So when the computer looks at the image and spots a blob with brightness 30 mJy, what does that mean? Does it mean there is one galaxy there with brightness 30 mJy? Or perhaps there are 10 galaxies, with brightnesses of 15 mJy or lower?
It's difficult to tell. But what you can do (and what we did in the paper) is to stick fake galaxies (blobs) into the image, and see what difference that makes. So if we have a fake galaxy with brightness 30 mJy, and we put it in at a random position, what effect will that have, on average? What is the probability that it will be detected? (This is approaching what we mean by the completeness of the catalogue, although it is far from easy to know what is meant by those simple words "it" and "detected"!) What brightness will it be measured to have, on average? 20 mJy? 30 mJy? 40 mJy? 100 mJy?
For very bright galaxies, it's relatively straightforward. But for fainter things, it can do your head in...
9 Mar 2010
I've just learned that the Herschel Science Archive has been opened up to the world, so any old Tom, Dick or Harry can download the data and start writing their own Nature papers. Well, okay, most of the data is (are) proprietary, but there's quite a bit of public data on there. Here are some links.