After a few iterations of the API with my mentors, I started working on the observation and datataset modules of Gammapy. These modules are essential for observation bookkeeping and data access. Since the background subtraction methods should act on the data, a good implementation of these modules is important for developing the toolbox mentioned in my proposal.
Before explaining what I am working on exactly, I will try to clarify how TeV gamma-ray observations are carried and organized.
A typical observation would be to point the telescope system (for instance H.E.S.S. or CTA) to a particular position in the sky (i.e. a source like the Crab nebula) for a certain amount of time (typically ~30 min.). Since most sources in gamma-ray need deep exposures (typically several hours to ~100 h) to obtain a significant emission, and hence actually "see something", an object is observed during multiple observations of ~30 min each.
Each of these observations delivers a large amount of data (raw data): telescope images of interesting events (plus also a lot of noise), atmosphere monitoring information, telescope calibration information, etc. Each experiment or observatory has a team of experts that filter the data and derive the properties of the primary particles (ideally gamma-rays, but also a lot of gamma-like background events) and produce the so called event list files: one file per observation.
These files contain ordered list of events with their properties (arrival direction, energy, etc.) and a header with the information common to all of them, for being in the same observation (observation time, telescope pointing direction, etc.). These event list files are the data, that is delivered to the observer/analyzer and are the input for the analysis tools.
In order to keep track of these observations and organize the event lists needed for a specific analysis, observation tables are used. These are but a list of observations IDs that should identify the corresponding event lists, together with interesting properties that help the analyzer in the selection of the observations needed for a specific analysis. These properties are for instance the observation time, the pointing position, the observation duration, the quality of the data obtained, etc.
My work on the last 2 weeks has been especially in the development of a tool that generates dummy observation tables that I will be able to use for testing some of the tools that I need to develop for the background module of Gammapy. In addition, I am working together with my mentors on defining the data format that Gammapy observation tables will support. A link to the pull request can be found here.
The work is not yet finished, but the tool generates already test observation tables with a few columns. Here is a screenshot with a 10 observation example table (please click on the picture for an enlarged view):
The algorithm of the tool generates random pairs of azimuth and altitude evenly distributed in spherical coordinates. Azimuth values are generated in the interval (0 deg, 360 deg), and altitude values in the interval (45 deg, 90 deg). It also generates random time values between the start of 2010 and the end of 2014. The az, alt pairs are then translated into celestial coordinates (RA, dec) for a specific observatory. More on coordinates and its transformations can be found in the Astropy docs here, or in a less technical way in Wikipedia here.
This tool could also be used in the future to generate example observation lists.
Items that need to be improved:
- Write the doc specifying the supported format for observation tables in Gammapy.
- Add additional columns to the dummy observation table generator.
- Add a header to the observation table with for instance the name of the observatory/experiment (i.e. H.E.S.S. or CTA).
- The times in the observation table generator should be written in a more convenient format.
- Optional: since TeV gammas-ray observations are carried at night, it would be nice if the randomly generated observation times could be restricted to night hours (i.e. from 22h to 4h).
- Optional: develop a tool to filter observation tables depending on a few parameters like:
- Time interval: define t_min, t_max
- Pointing position: define a circle/box in the sky.