X-Ray Background Tool Help
This tool calculates for a specified astronomical position and either a circle with a specified radius or an annulus with specified inner and outer radii centered on this position the average X-ray background count rate and statistical uncertainty in each of the six standard bands of the ROSAT All-Sky Survey diffuse background maps (R1, R2, R4, R5, R6, R7). In addition, the average count rates are given for the combined 1/4 keV (R1 + R2), 3/4 keV (R4 + R5), and 1.5 keV (R6 + R7) bands. (The count rates for the combined bands are simply the sum of the count rates for each component band, and the uncertainty in the combined band count rate is the square root of the sum of the squares of the uncertainties of each component band.) The values returned by the tool are in units of 10-6 counts/second/arcminute2. The software calculates the average count rate using the map values within N degrees from the requested position.
The software starts by creating a sub-sample of each map with size M degrees X M degrees, where M is an internal parameter chosen to be a value slightly larger than either 5 degrees (if the specified cone radius is less than 1.25 degrees) or four times the specified cone radius (or outer radius of annulus) N, if N is 1.25 degrees or larger), up to a maximum of 20 degrees for a maximum possible radius of 10 degrees. Only the pixel map values within N degrees are used to calculate the average count rate value.
Note: The RASS X-ray data are taken from six map tiles centered on the Galactic plane at l=0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees, and around the north and south Galactic poles. They are ZEA (Zenith Equal Area) map projections, and the pixels are fairly square over the entire ZEA map. For any data extraction, data from only one map tile (file) is used. Since these map tiles have a minimum of 16 degrees of overlap, the largest regions (radii of 8-10 degrees) near the tile borders will not be fully sampled. In these cases the area outside of the source map tile is ignored.
There are two possible search areas for calculating the X-ray background count rates for a specified astronomical position.
The Cone search option uses all pixels within the radius N of a circle centered on the astronomical position. This search region is the default.
The Annulus search option uses the pixels within a ring centered at the specified astronomical position, with outer radius R1 and inner radius R2, such that R2 is less than R1. As R2 approaches zero, the Annulus and Cone search areas become the same thing. This feature is useful for removing extended sources (e.g., a cluster of galaxies) from disturbing the calculation of the X-ray background count rates.
Only map values within the specified radius are used in the average count rate calculation. The default is 1 degree. The maximum allowed radius is 10 degrees. All radius values should be specified in units of degrees.
If the Annulus option is selected, the Radius field specifies the outer radius of the ring that defines the annulus region. The Inner Radius of the ring must also be specified, and it must be less than the outer radius. Inner radius values should also be specified in units of degrees.
Note: If the search radius is larger than the amount of overlap between map tiles (see Description above) and the chosen position is near the edge of the map being used, the computed averages may not include some values that would extend beyond the edge of the map tile.
Note: Increasing the radius will increase the likelihood that the average will be over true variations in the diffuse X-ray background. Decreasing the search radius may not provide sufficient coverage to allow for reasonable statistical uncertainties. (The survey was photon limited.) If the search radius is decreased to less than 0.2 degrees, the program may not find any data points within the specified radius. Use results with caution.
Checking this option will plot an image of the X-ray background average count rate for a region around the requested position. Each pixel in the image is constructed using the counts, background counts, and exposures of the corresponding pixels from all seven bands of the ROSAT All-Sky Survey diffuse background maps. Each pixel is really the average computed using the corresponding map pixels and the eight pixels surrounding it, using the following formula for each image pixel, Ii j:
where the sums are over the pixel coordinates range [ i=i-1 to i+1, j=j-1 to j+1 ] and the band range [ k=1 to 7 ]. Ci j k represents the counts for band k at pixel (i,j) in the ROSAT All-Sky Survey diffuse background maps. Bi j k are the background counts and Ei j k are the exposure times. Values of Ii j have units counts/s/arcmin2. The scale factor of 0.39063 is the magic number required to produce those units and comes from the fact that the pixels for the basic survey data arrays are 1.6 x 1.6 arcmin2. <E> is the exposure weight and is defined as
where the sums are over the band range [ k=1 to 7 ]. Ck and Ek are defined as follows:
where these sums are over only the pixel coordinates range [ i=i-1 to i+1, j=j-1 to j+1 ].
In the interest of providing visual context for the search region, the width and height of the image is four times the size of the cone (or outer annulus) radius, up to a maximum of 20 degrees, or 5 degrees, whichever is greater. Once the values of the pixels have been obtained and written to a FITS file (which also contains the spectrum), XIMAGE is used to plot the image for the Web interface. Cross-hairs are added to the image, showing the exact position specified. Green circles are also added, signifying the search region, two concentric circles for an annulus or one circle otherwise.
The Web interface has an option which allows the user to specify the scaling used by XIMAGE to color the image. The scaling used in displaying an image can dramatically affect its appearance. By default Histogram equalization is used, however Linear, Logarithmic, and Square-Root scaling are also available. The following mosaic shows the same image displayed using each of the scaling options:
The best scaling to use depends on the character of the image data. Histogram equalization works well with most distributions, as it maps pixels into color bins such that each color is used to draw about the same number of pixels. For low count images, however, there are not enough unique pixel values to fill up the available colors. Linear scaling is useful for data values which are evenly distributed and with a relatively small range, while logarithmic and square-root scaling are better for data values with a large range.
A contour plot will be overlaid onto the image if the Overlay Contours option is checked. By default the contours are calculated using the same scaling method specified for the image with the range divided into ten levels with the contours for level 5 and higher are plotted on top of the image.
The energy of each band corresponds to 10 percent of the peak response. Bands with the same upper (or lower) channel boundaries can have different upper (or lower) energy range limits because of the different widths of the bands and the definition of the energy range as a fixed fraction of the peak response. (See Snowden et al., ApJ, Vol. 424 (1994), pp. 714-728, in the References section listed below).
The integration area that the X-Ray Background Tool uses to convert the average map values (which are given in units of 10-6 PSPC counts s-1 arcmin-2) to count rates with units of PSPC counts s-1 is the number of map pixels used to calculate the average map value multiplied by the dimensions of each pixel in arcmin2. The pixels in the ROSAT All-Sky Survey diffuse background maps have dimensions of 0.200 degrees by 0.200 degrees or 144 arcmin2.
The HEASARC Web Tool WebPIMMS, a flux/count rate converter, can be used to convert the average map values (which are given in units of 10-6 PSPC counts s-1 arcmin-2) to flux values (in units of ergs s-1 cm-2 arcmin-2) via the following recipe:
A more accurate way to convert the X-ray background average count rates to fluxes is to use XSPEC, or any other OGIP-compatible spectral fitting package. Checking the option Create XSPEC-compatible FITS spectrum will result in a FITS spectrum file dynamically generated specifically for the search region requested. The cosmic spectrum and appropriate ROSAT response matrix can be downloaded from the output page. A scientifically reasonable spectral model includes three thermal components where one is unabsorbed and two are absorbed by the Galactic column density and an absorbed power law. The unabsorbed thermal component represents emission from the Local Hot Bubble (e.g., Snowden et al., 1998, ApJ, Vol. 493, p. 715) and should have a temperature near 0.1 keV. The power law component represents the contribution of unresolved extragalactic sources (primarily AGN) and has a photon index of 1.45. The two absorbed thermal components represent the low temperature halo which should have a temperature of about 0.1 keV and a hotter component with a temperature of 0.3 keV (with large possible variations). Since the spectrum has only seven data points, this model is perhaps a bit excessive. Note, however, that as the evaluation direction approaches the Galactic plane, or, if it includes significant discrete objects such as supernova remnants or clusters of galaxies, the true emission spectrum becomes even more complicated.
Please refer to the XSPEC Users Manual for more information on how to use XSPEC.
The source code to a command-line version of the X-Ray Background Tool is available for download. Power users interested in computing the average X-ray background count rates for a multitude of sky regions should consider using the command-line tool for batch jobs. The source code requires HEAsoft to be installed.
ROSAT Survey Diffuse Background Maps, Paper II
First Maps of the Soft X-Ray Diffuse Background from the ROSAT XRT/PSPC
Analysis of ROSAT XRT/PSPC Observations of Extended Objects and the
Deconstructing the Spectrum of the Soft X-Ray Background
Progress on Establishing the Spatial Distribution of Material Responsible for
the 1/4 keV Soft X-Ray Diffuse Background Local and Halo Components
Software developed and maintained by Edward J. Sabol of the HEASARC.
This software is based primarily on the research of Dr. Steve Snowden, who also assisted extensively with software testing and feature suggestions.
This file was last modified on Tuesday, 05-Mar-2013 14:46:14 EST
For feedback or questions concerning the X-Ray Background Tool, please contact Edward J. Sabol.
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