Major updates since DR7

DR8 is the first release to integrate data from all of the individual Legacy Surveys (BASS, DECaLS and MzLS). In addition, observations for the Legacy Surveys were completed in March 2019, before the release of DR8. As such, a major push was made to update the DR7 code and data model to prepare for the final Legacy Surveys Data Releases. This page briefly documents those updates.

Algorithmic changes for optical data

  • Data from DECam has been trimmed to only observations after 2014-03-14 (to avoid problems with scattered light in early DECam data).
  • Contaminating foreground sources have been treated more consistently:
    • Such foreground sources include bright stars, medium-bright stars, globular clusters and large galaxies.
    • The foreground sources consist of pre-defined geometrical masks (which are elliptical for galaxies).
    • These mask regions are ignored in the local-sky-fitting calibration code.
    • Within the mask regions for bright stars, globular clusters and large galaxies, sources are forced to be TYPE=PSF (except for the large galaxies themselves).
    • Within all of the mask regions, a constant sky level is fit in the mask blob for each exposure; this appears to preferentially classify sources as TYPE=PSF around Gaia stars.
  • Cosmic rays & other artifacts are now detected across multiple images.
  • PSF wings around bright stars are now partially subtracted.
  • All Gaia sources are forced to have fixed positions after accounting for proper motion and parallax.
  • Sources that pass a star/galaxy cut in the Gaia catalog are forced to be TYPE=PSF using the Gaia excess noise parameter as follows:
    • For \(G < 18\): \(\mathrm{astrometric\_excess\_noise} < 10^{0.5}\)
    • For \(G \geq 18\): \(\mathrm{astrometric\_excess\_noise} < 10^{(0.5 + 0.2(G-18))}\)
  • Astrometry is now tied entirely to Gaia Data Release 2.

Algorithmic changes for WISE

  • PSFs are now pixelized.
  • Astrometry has been improved.
  • Sky modeling is now more accurate, which should remove biases for faint sources.
  • WISE coadds are generated on the same brick projections as for the optical (\(g,r,z\)) imaging.
  • WISE bitmasks are now much more richly featured, as detailed in Aaron Meisner's unWISE documentation.
  • The unWISE inverse variance map has been regularized.

Other algorithmic changes

  • External catalogs are now matched to using a 1.5 arcsecond radius (the matching radius was 1.0 arcsec prior to DR8).

Data model changes

  • The directory structure is now split into two distinct sub-directories:
  • A new morphological type TYPE=DUP has been added for Gaia sources that are coincident with an extended source.
    • No optical flux is assigned to DUP sources, but they are retained such that all Gaia sources appear in the source catalogs.
  • The maskbits-* files have been updated with extra bits as documented on the DR8 bitmasks page.
  • The BRIGHTSTARINBLOB boolean column has been dropped in favor of the integer column BRIGHTBLOB, which contains extra bits as documented on the DR8 bitmasks page.
  • Additional Gaia columns have been added to the Tractor and sweeps catalogs:
  • Additional Gaia columns have been propagated from the Tractor catalogs to the sweeps catalogs:
    • REF_CAT
  • Additional columns now appear in the random catalogs:
    • APFLUX_G/R/Z
  • Additional columns now appear in the survey-ccds- files:
    • plver (this was previously only in the ccds-annotated- files)
    • procdate
    • plprocid
    • airmass
    • ccdskysb
    • ccdnastrom
    • ccdnphotom
  • A column has been removed from the survey-ccds- files:
    • ccdnmatch
  • Any columns denoting quantities in \(u\), \(i\) or \(Y\) filters have been removed from the Tractor catalogs (e.g. flux_u, flux_i, flux_Y).
  • The calib/*/splinesky files now contain many additional statistics characterizing the sky fitting.
  • New metrics files have been added in the metrics directories:
    • metrics/*/outlier-mask*
    • metrics/*/reference*