The Carina Nebula

11 Recommended Open Source Multi-Platform Astronomy Software


Xstar (part of HEASoft)

HEASoft offers an Aladdin’s chest of astronomy software. It is a unified release of FTOOLS and XANADU.

Software packages include:

  • XANADU – a suite of high level, multi-mission tasks for X-ray astronomical spectral, timing, and imaging data analysis:
    • XSPEC – a command-driven, interactive, X-ray spectral-fitting program, designed to be completely detector-independent so that it can be used for any spectrometer. XSPEC has been used to analyze data from HEAO-1 A2, Einstein Observatory, EXOSAT, Ginga, ROSAT, BBXRT, ASCA, CGRO, IUE, RXTE, Chandra, XMM-Newton, Integral/SPI, Swift and Suzaku
    • XRONOS – a general purpose timing analysis package. Although it was designed mostly for X-ray astronomy, XRONOS is basically detector and wavelength-independent. It has been used to analyse data from the Einstein Observatory, EXOSAT, Ginga, ASCA and RXTE, as well as optical photometry. It includes programs for: lightcurve(s), hardness ratio and colour-colour plotting, epoch folding, power spectrum, autocorrelation, cross-correlation, time skewness and statistical analysis
    • XIMAGE – a multi-mission X-ray image display and analysis program. It is designed to be instrument independent and to support the analysis of data from any X-ray imaging detector provided that the proper calibration files are available. Currently XIMAGE supports the detailed analysis of EXOSAT CMA, Einstein HRI and IPC, ROSAT PSPC and HRI, ASCA GIS and SIS, BeppoSAX MECS and LECS data. It also supports some basic analysis of optical, infrared and radio images
  • FTOOLS – a general package of software to manipulate FITS files. Distributed with FTOOLS:
    • Attitude – multi-mission attitude tasks
    • fv – a general FITS file browser/editor/plotter with a graphical user interface
    • FITISO – core library responsible for reading and writing FITS files
    • CALTOOLS – tasks relating to the creation and manipulation of calibration files, including tasks to access the HEASARC Calibration Database
    • FIMAGE – tasks for FITS image file manipulation that are not specific to a particular mission or instrument
    • TIME – tasks specific to timing
    • HEASARC – tasks for High Energy (X- & gamma-ray) astronomy that are not specific to a particular instrument
    • HEAsim – a multi-mission high-energy astrophysics simulation tool. The software uses a pseudo Monte-Carlo approach that redistributes the source photons in position and energy according to the input files appropriate to the chosen telescope/detector system
    • FUTILS – general purpose tasks for the manipulation of FITS data
  • XSTAR – calculates the physical conditions and emission spectra of photoionized gases

A good range of binary distributions are available, but it's recommended to compile the source code. This is a monster to download! You need almost 3GB of disk space to just download the source code for all the packages, and another 2GB to build the software. Even a binary distribution takes up over 2GB. You need a Fortran 77 compiler to build the software.

All tasks can be run remotely using the Hera data analysis service at the HEASARC without having to install the software locally.

Developer: NASA
License: Open Source

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  • Jack Bennett says:

    Hey Steve, thanks for the great post. I use Stellarium and Celestia quite often. Will try KStars soon. -Jack

  • Steve Emms says:

    Hi Jack, it’s great to hear you like the post. Do let us know how you get on with KStars. It’d be great if you could help if you could share the article using the social media buttons above. Or give the post a like. It all helps!

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