10.11.5 Good Time Interval Filtering and Calculation

There are two functions for filtering and calculating based on Good Time Intervals, or GTIs. GTIs are commonly used to express fragmented time ranges that are not easy to express with a single start and stop time. The time intervals are defined in a FITS table extension which contains 2 columns giving the start and stop time of each good interval.

A common filtering method involves selecting rows which have a time value which lies within any GTI. The gtifilter() filtering operation accepts only those rows of the input table which have an associated time which falls within one of the time intervals defined in a separate GTI extension. gtifilter(a,b,c,d) evaluates each row of the input table and returns TRUE or FALSE depending whether the row is inside or outside the good time interval. The syntax is

      gtifilter( [ "gtifile" [, expr [, "STARTCOL", "STOPCOL" ] ] ] )
      gtifilter( [ 'gtifile' [, expr [, 'STARTCOL', 'STOPCOL' ] ] ] )
where each "[]" demarks optional parameters. Note that the quotes around the gtifile and START/STOP column are required. Either single or double quotes may be used. In cases where this expression is entered on the Unix command line, enclose the entire expression in double quotes, and then use single quotes within the expression to enclose the 'gtifile' and other terms. It is also usually possible to do the reverse, and enclose the whole expression in single quotes and then use double quotes within the expression. The gtifile, if specified, can be blank ("") which will mean to use the first extension with the name "*GTI*" in the current file, a plain extension specifier (eg, "+2", "[2]", or "[STDGTI]") which will be used to select an extension in the current file, or a regular filename with or without an extension specifier which in the latter case will mean to use the first extension with an extension name "*GTI*". Expr can be any arithmetic expression, including simply the time column name. A vector time expression will produce a vector boolean result. STARTCOL and STOPCOL are the names of the START/STOP columns in the GTI extension. If one of them is specified, they both must be.

In its simplest form, no parameters need to be provided - default values will be used. The expression "gtifilter()" is equivalent to

       gtifilter( "", TIME, "*START*", "*STOP*" )
This will search the current file for a GTI extension, filter the TIME column in the current table, using START/STOP times taken from columns in the GTI extension with names containing the strings "START" and "STOP". The wildcards ('*') allow slight variations in naming conventions such as "TSTART" or "STARTTIME". The same default values apply for unspecified parameters when the first one or two parameters are specified. The function automatically searches for TIMEZERO/I/F keywords in the current and GTI extensions, applying a relative time offset, if necessary.

The related function, gtifind(a,b,c,d), is similar to gtifilter() but instead of returning true/false, gtifind() returns the GTI number that brackets the requested time sample. gtifind() returns the row number in the GTI table that matches the time sample, or -1 if the time sample is not within any GTI. gtifind() is particularly useful when entries in a table must be categorized by which GTI the fall within. For example, if events in an event list must be separated by good time interval. The results of gtifind() can be used with histogram binning techniques to bin an event list by which GTI.

      gtifind( "gtifile" , expr [, "STARTCOL", "STOPCOL" ] )

The requirements for specifying the gtifile are the same as for gtifilter() as described above. Like gtifilter(), the expr is the time-like expression and is optional (defaulting to TIME). The start and stop columns default to START and STOP.

The function, gtioverlap(a,b,c,d,e), computes the overlap between a user-requested time range and the entries in a GTI. The cases of no overlap, partial overlap, or overlap of many GTIs within the user requested range are handled. gtioverlap() is very useful for calculating exposure times and fractional exposures of individual time bins, say for a light curve. The syntax of gtioverlap() is

      gtioverlap( "gtifile" , startExpr, stopExpr [, "STARTCOL", "STOPCOL" ] )
      gtioverlap( 'gtifile' , startExpr, stopExpr [, 'STARTCOL', 'STOPCOL' ] )

The requirements for specifying the gtifile are the same as for gtifilter() as described above. Unlike gtifilter(), the startExpr and stopExpr are not optional. startExpr provides a start of the user requested time interval. startExpr is typically TIME, but can be any valid expression. Likewise, stopExpr provides the stop of the user requested time interval, and can be an expression. For example, for a light curve with a TIME column and time bin size of 1.0 seconds, the expression


would calculate the amount of overlap exposure time between each one second time bin and the GTI in 'gtifile'. In this case the time bin is assumed to begin at the time specified by TIME and end 1 second later. Neither startExpr nor stopExpr are required to be constant, and a light curve is not required to have a constant bin size. For tables, the overlap is calculated for each entry in the table.

It is also possible to calculate a single overlap value, which would typically be placed in a keyword. For example, a way to to compute the total overlap exposure of a file whose TIME column is bounded by the keywords TSTART and TSTOP, overlapping with the specified GTI, would be

      #EXPOSURE = gtioverlap('gtifile',#TSTART,#TSTOP)

The #EXPOSURE syntax with a leading #+ ensures that the requested values are treated as keywords. Otherwise, a column named EXPOSURE will be created with the (constant) exposure value in each entry.