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5 Free Linux Astronomical Data Analysis Tools

5 Free Linux Astronomical Data Analysis Tools

Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with the study of celestial objects (including stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, meteor showers, nebulae, star clusters, galaxies) and other phenomena such as gamma ray bursts and supernovae.

Astronomy is particularly well suited to the layperson. It is a wonderful hobby which has almost no age limits, it is open to individuals of all financial means, and there is always the potential for an amateur to discover something that has eluded professional astronomers, or to help monitor stars and track asteroids. Professional astronomers are in a very fortunate profession. They have the opportunity to continue their love of astronomy, travel the world, make significant discoveries, and get paid at the same time.

Professional astronomers spend far more of their time analysing data and writing articles than actually observing celestial objects. Amateur astronomers are also keen to analyse the data they have collated. Software that can process and analyse images is therefore essential to astronomers. Fortunately, high performance scientific software has always been a strong area for Linux.

Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) is a digital file format used to store, transmit, and manipulate scientific and other images. FITS is the most commonly used digital file format in astronomy.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 5 high quality open source tools to analyse astronomical data. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for both professional and amateur astronomers.

We give our highest recommendation to IRAF. This is a huge and exceptionally capable astronomical analysis system with an excellent programming environment with a complete compiled language, and has been in development for decades. It has received many authoritative contributions from professional astronomers in different fields of astronomical data analysis.

In development terms, MYRaf is right at the other end of the spectrum, with an initial release of code only made available this week. Whilst we normally only select mature software for inclusion in our Group Test articles, MYRaf shows promise and is worth investigating.

Now, let's explore the 5 astronomical data analysis software at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Astronomical Data Analysis Tools
IRAF Image Reduction and Analysis Facility
ORSA Framework for celestial mechanics investigations
SAOImage DS9 Astronomical imaging and data visualization application
STSDAS Reduce and analyze astronomical data; layered on top of IRAF
MYRaf Qt4 graphical interface for IRAF

Return to our complete collection of Group Tests, identifying the finest Linux software.

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Last Updated Sunday, May 31 2015 @ 10:48 AM EDT


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