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SIS Energy-Channel Relationship (Gain and Offset)

Dear ASCA PIs and Archival Researchers:

[A copy of this message is available on the WWW at


Currently, the accuracy of gain calibration varies among the eight CCD
chips on the two SIS detectors:

 o SIS0-chip1, the default chip for point sources, is believed to have
   the most accurate gain.

 o SIS1-chip3, also the default chip for point sources, is the next
   best, but its gain is probably 0.5 per cent too high.

 o The other, non-default chips may be off by as much as 1.5-2 per cent.

For more details, please consult the article by Dotani et al. in the
third issue of ASCAnews which has just been mailed out to subscribers.

In addition, spurious but small (up to 30 eV) offsets may be present in
the energy-channel relationship due to:

 o DEF (Dark Frame Error), and

 o RDD (Residual Dark Distribution) effects in the case of Faint mode
   data analyzed using the current version of the FTOOL FAINTDFE.

If your SIS spectra, even if extracted from the PI column, show features
at energies where the SIS effective area curve has a large derivative
(near the oxygen edge and gold M edge, for example), or if best-fitting
line energies appear at the "wrong" energies, then this may be due to
the inaccurate calibration of the energy-channel relationship -
especially in the case of non-default chips.

You can explore this possibility using the "gain fit" command in XSPEC.
Since the uncertainty in the slope of the gain is likely to be larger
than the uncertainty in the offset, users should experiment first by
adjusting the slope. For this, we recommend a two-stage process:

 1. Use the XSPEC "gain fit" command to find the best value for the
    slope. This is straightforward:

     a. Fit the spectrum using the nominal gain.

     b. If applicable, fix the energies of line features at their
        expected values. For example, fix the energy of the fluorescent
        line from neutral iron at 6.4 keV.

     c. At the XSPEC prompt type "gain fit", after which you'll be
        prompted for the initial values of the slope and the offset.

     d. Hit return for the slope (to make it a free parameter) and then
        0,-1 to fix the offset at zero.

     e. Next use the "fit" command to refit the data and derive the
        best-fitting slope which will be listed as the penultimate
        parameter. It should come out to be close to unity.

 2. Repopulate the PI column in your SIS event file using the FTOOL
    SISPI but with the hidden parameter gainnom to correct the gain.
    If, for example, you find the best-fitting gain to be 1.015, then
    the value of gainnom is 3.65*1.015, i.e., 3.705 (the default setting
    is 3.65 eV per channel). The corresponding command string is:
        sispi gainnom=3.705

    After repopulating the PI column, re-extract the source and
    background spectra and repeat the fit.

If, after following this procedure, you still suspect that the gain is
not correct, you can repeat the first step, but allowing the offset to
vary rather than the slope. Note, however, that the present version of
sispi cannot apply an offset correction to the energy-channel

Koji Mukai & Charles Day, ASCA GOF

Please send comments and questions to ascahelp@athena.gsfc.nasa.gov