GNU Astronomy Utilities

6.1 Crop

Astronomical images are often very large, filled with thousands of galaxies. It often happens that you only want a section of the image, or you have a catalog of sources and you want to visually analyze them in small postage stamps. Crop is made to do all these things. When more than one crop is required, Crop will divide the crops between multiple threads to significantly reduce the run time.

Astronomical surveys are usually extremely large. So large in fact, that the whole survey will not fit into a reasonably sized file. Because of this, surveys usually cut the final image into separate tiles and store each tile in a file. For example, the COSMOS survey’s Hubble space telescope, ACS F814W image consists of 81 separate FITS images, with each one having a volume of 1.7 Gigabytes.

Even though the tile sizes are chosen to be large enough that too many galaxies/targets do not fall on the edges of the tiles, inevitably some do. So when you simply crop the image of such targets from one tile, you will miss a large area of the surrounding sky (which is essential in estimating the noise). Therefore in its WCS mode, Crop will stitch parts of the tiles that are relevant for a target (with the given width) from all the input images that cover that region into the output. Of course, the tiles have to be present in the list of input files.

Besides cropping postage stamps around certain coordinates, Crop can also crop arbitrary polygons from an image (or a set of tiles by stitching the relevant parts of different tiles within the polygon), see --polygon in Invoking Crop. Alternatively, it can crop out rectangular regions through the --section option from one image, see Crop section syntax.