The purpose of this software is to subtract continuum in a parallel/distributed environment or on a single computer system. The software leverages MPI, however can be run on a simple laptop or a large supercomputer.

The imcontsub task is based on the version of the ACES script from Dec 2019. It performs the following processing for each spectrum:

  • exclude outliers (top and bottom 5%),
  • do approximate linear fit of the spectrum (using every 10th data point)
  • subtract off the linear fit to remove source spectral index to 1st order
  • determine mask based on threshold and IQR relative to median (see below)
  • use mask to fit original channels with polynomial of given order
  • subtract fit and write out residual spectrum

Running the program

It can be run with the following command, where “” is a file containing the configuration parameters described in the next section.

$ <MPI wrapper> imcontsub -c

Configuration Parameters

Parset parameters understood by imcontsub are given in the following table (all parameters must have imcontsub prefix, i.e. imcontsub.order).

Parameter Type Default Description
inputfitscube string None Image cube to work with. The input file has to be in FITS format. It is read and left unchanged.
outputfitscube string generated The name of the cube to write the results to. If the file already exists, it will be overwritten. If the output name is left unspecified, it is generated from the input name: mycube.fits -> mycube.contsub.fits
order int 2 The order of the polynomial used to fit for the continuum.
threshold float 2.0 The threshold (in robust rms units) used to decide which channels to include in the fit for the continuum. A channel is included if it is not flagged and: abs(pixval-median) < threshold*rms where rms is estimated from the IQR (inter quartile range)
blocksize int 0 Do the subtraction in blocks of channels, this serves two needs: match the beamforming interval to deal with discontinuities at boundaries; better model the continuum by fitting over a smaller frequency range. The default of 0 will fit and subtract the whole spectrum at once
shift int 0 Shift the origin of the subtraction blocks ‘left’ by this many channels to match the location of beamforming steps.
interleave bool false Interleave the fit/subtract blocks, using blocksize channels to fit the spectrum, but subtracting only the central 50%, stepping by half a block. This avoids some edge effects of the fitting process obvious in the rms spectrum


# The input fits cube
imcontsub.inputfitscube                           = mycube.fits
# The output fits cube
imcontsub.outputfitscube                          = mycube.contsub.fits
# The polynomial order - doing a linear fit
imcontsub.order                                   = 1
# The threshold - include channels within 2.5 sigma
imcontsub.threshold                               = 2.5
# The blocksize - match default beamforming interval
imcontsub.blocksize                               = 54