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Published July 2014 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

IPAC Image Processing and Data Archiving for the Palomar Transient Factory


The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) is a multiepochal robotic survey of the northern sky that acquires data for the scientific study of transient and variable astrophysical phenomena. The camera and telescope provide for wide-field imaging in optical bands. In the five years of operation since first light on 2008 December 13, images taken with Mould-R and SDSS-g′ camera filters have been routinely acquired on a nightly basis (weather permitting), and two different Hα filters were installed in 2011 May (656 and 663 nm). The PTF image-processing and data-archival program at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) is tailored to receive and reduce the data, and, from it, generate and preserve astrometrically and photometrically calibrated images, extracted source catalogs, and co-added reference images. Relational databases have been deployed to track these products in operations and the data archive. The fully automated system has benefited by lessons learned from past IPAC projects and comprises advantageous features that are potentially incorporable into other ground-based observatories. Both off-the-shelf and in-house software have been utilized for economy and rapid development. The PTF data archive is curated by the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive (IRSA). A state-of-the-art custom Web interface has been deployed for downloading the raw images, processed images, and source catalogs from IRSA. Access to PTF data products is currently limited to an initial public data release (M81, M44, M42, SDSS Stripe 82, and the Kepler Survey Field). It is the intent of the PTF collaboration to release the full PTF data archive when sufficient funding becomes available.

Additional Information

© 2014 Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2014 April 04; accepted 2014 May 28; published 2014 July 10. E. O. O. is incumbent of the Arye Dissentshik career development chair and is gratefully supported by grants from the Israeli Ministry of Science, the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence (I-CORE) Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee, and the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 1829/12). We wish to thank Dave Shupe, Trey Roby, Loi Ly, Winston Yang, Rick Ebert, Rich Hoban, Hector Wong, and Jack Lampley for valuable contributions to the project. PTF is a scientific collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Las Cumbres Observatory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the University of Oxford, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. This work made use of Montage, funded by the NASA's Earth Science Technology Office, Computation Technologies Project, under Cooperative Agreement Number NCC5-626 between NASA and the California Institute of Technology. Montage is maintained by the NASA/ IPAC Infrared Science Archive. This project makes use of data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, NASA, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, the Max Planck Society, and the Higher Education Council for England. This research has made use of the VizieR catalog access tool, Centre de Données (CDS), Strasbourg, France. Our pipelines use many free software packages from other institutions and past projects (see Table 12), for which we are indebted.

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