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Data Reduction and Analysis

RXTE Guest Observer Facility - RXTE Frequently Asked Questions


The first step in analyzing your RXTE data is to read the data off your tape and browse the files and directories. These steps are described in the RXTE Getting Started Guide. This guide also explains the directory structure on your tape, as well as how to install all the requisite software.

Comprehensive instructions for reducing RXTE data are provided by two complementary guides:

  1. The ABC of XTE, provides extensive information about RXTE data files, PCA and HEXTE data modes, screening and extraction. It also includes a description of how times are used in RXTE data files.

  2. The RXTE Cook Book provides step-by-step recipes for a growing number of RXTE data reduction tasks.

A continually updated list of frequently asked questions about RXTE data reduction and analysis is available. We strongly recommend that you bookmark this FAQ and consult it first whenever you encounter a problem with RXTE data and software.

To analyze your reduced RXTE data, you'll be able to use the Xanadu programs Xronos and Xspec for timing and spectra, respectively. User guides are available for xronos and xspec.

Current Status of RXTE Data Reduction

(as of the end of mission)

The lists What we can do now and What we can't do yet summarize the current capabilities of the RXTE data reduction and analysis software, and of the calibration tools and information provided by the respective instrument teams.

What we can do now

  1. Create and search a hierarchical FITS database for each observation; select data sets for analysis based on time, source, instrument and/or subsystem, AppId and/or configuration.

    • Selectively untar portions of the database.

  2. With PCA data:

  3. With HEXTE data:

    • Extract on-source and off-source light curves and spectra for HEXTE event and histogram (binned) modes, applying the above types of filter.

    • Correct HEXTE light curves and spectra for deadtime in the case of both archive and event mode data.

    • Analyze HEXTE spectra of on-axis observations using standard HEXTE response matrices.

  4. Apply barycentric corrections to PCA and HEXTE light curves and to science array and science event data.

  5. Timing analysis: create light curves, hardness ratios, color-color plots (no background subtraction); search for QPOs; perform autocorrelation, cross-correlation and time skewness analyses of time series data [using HEASARC's XRONOS package]; create phase binned spectra and light curves for Single EA event, GoodXenon, Binned, Single-bit, and Pulsar-fold modes using fasebin tools.

  6. Perform all the above types of analysis using tools and Perl scripts on the command line.

  7. Perform some of the above types of analysis using XSELECT. For RXTE, this tool currently supports: analysis of Standard2 data; creating good time intervals from the filter file; extracting light curves and spectra; creating background spectra and light curves.

  8. Perform automatic screening of data based on orbital, attitude, HK information etc.

What we can't do yet

  1. With PCA data:

    • Easily extract data in the following PCA modes: FFT mode, Delta-Time mode, Pulsar Fold mode.

    We have either seen too little data in these modes, or had insufficient resources to support them.

  2. With HEXTE data:

    • Create custom response matrices for offset pointings and non-standard modes
    • Perform background subtraction for small time scales ( < rocking interval)
    • Apply gain and offset corrections

    The HEXTE team is still working on the relevant data or tools for the above items.

If you have a question about RXTE, please send email to one of our
help desks.

This page is maintained by the RXTE GOF and was last modified on Wednesday, 24-Aug-2022 11:10:30 EDT.