A method for individual source brightness estimation in single- and multi-band data

T. M. Crawford, E. R. Switzer, W. L. Holzapfel, C. L. Reichardt, D. P. Marrone, J. D. Vieira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We present a method of reliable extraction of the flux of individual sources from sky maps in the presence of noise and a source population in which number counts are a steeply falling function of flux. The method is an extension of a standard Bayesian procedure in the millimeter/submillimeter literature. As in the standard method, the prior applied to source flux measurements is derived from an estimate of the source counts as a function of flux, dN/dS . The key feature of the new method is that it enables reliable extraction of properties of individual sources, which previous methods in the literature do not. We first present the method for extracting individual source fluxes from data in a single observing band, then we extend the method to multiple bands, including prior information about the spectral behavior of the source population(s). The multi-band estimation technique is particularly relevant for classifying individual sources into populations according to their spectral behavior. We find that proper treatment of the correlated prior information between observing bands is key to avoiding significant biases in estimations of multi-band fluxes and spectral behavior, biases which lead to significant numbers of misclassified sources. We test the single- and multi-band versions of the method using simulated observations with observing parameters similar to that of the South Pole Telescope data used in Vieira et al.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-521
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010


  • Methods: data analysis
  • Methods: statistical
  • Submillimeter: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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