Bit masks can be used to select out rows from bit columns (TFORMn = #X) in FITS files. To represent the mask, binary, octal, and hex formats are allowed:

binary: b0110xx1010000101xxxx0001 octal: o720x1 -> (b111010000xxx001) hex: h0FxD -> (b00001111xxxx1101)

In all the representations, an x or X is allowed in the mask as a wild card. Note that the x represents a different number of wild card bits in each representation. All representations are case insensitive. Although bitmasks may be of arbitrary length and contain a wildcard, they may only be used in logical expressions, unlike integer constants (see above) which may be used in any arithmetic expression.

To construct the boolean expression using the mask as the boolean equal operator described above on a bit table column. For example, if you had a 7 bit column named flags in a FITS table and wanted all rows having the bit pattern 0010011, the selection expression would be:

flags == b0010011 or flags .eq. b10011

It is also possible to test if a range of bits is less than, less than equal, greater than and greater than equal to a particular boolean value:

flags <= bxxx010xx flags .gt. bxxx100xx flags .le. b1xxxxxxx

Notice the use of the x bit value to limit the range of bits being compared.

It is not necessary to specify the leading (most significant) zero (0) bits in the mask, as shown in the second expression above.

Bit wise AND, OR and NOT operations are also possible on two or more bit fields using the '&'(AND), '|'(OR), and the '!'(NOT) operators. All of these operators result in a bit field which can then be used with the equal operator. For example:

(!flags) == b1101100 (flags & b1000001) == bx000001

Bit fields can be appended as well using the '+' operator. Strings can be concatenated this way, too.