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FITS Files

FITS stands for Flexible Image Transport System. FITS files have two parts, a header, that gives all sorts of information including the date and time of the observation, what object was observed, the principal investigator (PI) for the observation (the person who was granted time on the telescope to observe), and other information. The second part of a FITS file contains the actual data. The data can be in several columns (for example, time might be one column, and counts of X-ray photons per second, or rate, might be a second). The data in a FITs file can be extracted and plotted to make lightcurves, spectra or images (depending on the type of data). The columns can also be manipulated, to subtract background noise, for example, or to perform mathematical analyses on the data (more on that later!).

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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