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GNU Astronomy Utilities is released

Item posted by Mohammad Akhlaghi <makhlaghi> on Tue 31 May 2016 01:39:22 PM UTC.

First public release of GNU Astronomy Utilities

The first public release of the GNU Astronomy Utilities (Gnuastro, version 0.1) tarball is now available for download, see below for more details. Gnuastro is an official GNU package consisting of a set of utilities, or executable programs (listed below), for astronomical data manipulation and analysis directly from the command-line (no mini-environment) and satisfying the GNU Coding Standards. The official Gnuastro webpage is available at:

An important component of Gnuastro is its comprehensive book (documentation or manual, link below), which is available in various online browsing (HTML), print, and command-line formats at:

The Gnuastro book thoroughly explains each utility's invocation details (invocation examples, options, inputs and outputs). In addition, following the rich tradition of GNU documentation, the book complements the technical details with context, suggestions on best practices, historical background, and mathematical derivations (where necessary) to help new astronomers, or new GNU/Linux users, understand and thus use the methods and tools most effectively.

The Tutorials chapter has some easy to read (and hopefully entertaining!) tutorials to get you started. Section 2.2 ("Sufi simulates a detection") is completely self-sufficient (needs no input files and catalogs) and can be done immediately after installation.

This release contains the following utilities (the executable names, to be run on the command-line after installation, are in parenthesis).

  • Arithmetic (astarithmetic): For arithmetic operations on multiple (theoretically unlimited) number of data sets (images). It has a large and growing set of arithmetic, mathematical, and even statistical operators (for example +, -, *, /, sqrt, log, min, average, median).
  • ConvertType (astconvertt): Convert astronomical data files (FITS or IMH) to and from several other standard image and data formats, for example TXT, JPEG, EPS or PDF.
  • Convolve (astconvolve): Convolve (blur or smooth) data with a given kernel in spatial and frequency domain on multiple threads. Convolve can also do de-convolution to find the appropriate kernel to PSF-match two images.
  • CosmicCalculator (astconvolve): Do cosmological calculations, for example the luminosity distance, distance modulus, comoving volume among others.
  • Header (astheader): Print and manipulate the header data of a FITS file.
  • ImageCrop (astimgcrop): Crop region(s) from an image and stitch several images if necessary.  Inputs can be in pixel coordinates or world coordinates.
  • ImageStatistics (astimgstat): Get pixel statistics and save histogram and cumulative frequency plots.
  • ImageWarp (astimgwarp): Warp image to new pixel grid. Any projective transformation or Homography can be applied to the input images.
  • MakeCatalog (astmkcatalog): Make catalog of labeled image (output of NoiseChisel). The catalogs are highly customizable and adding new calculations/columns is very straightforward.
  • MakeNoise (astmknoise): Make (add) noise to an image, with a large set of random number generators (from GNU Scientific Library) and any seed.
  • MakeProfiles (astmkprof): Make mock 2D profiles in an image. The central regions of radial profiles are made with a configurable 2D Monte Carlo integration. It can also build the profiles on an over-sampled image.
  • NoiseChisel (astnoisechisel): Detect and segment signal in noise. It uses a technique to detect very faint and diffuse, irregularly shaped signal in noise (galaxies in the sky), using thresholds that are below the Sky value (see arXiv:1505.01664).
  • SubtractSky (astsubtractsky): Find and subtract sky value by comparing the mode and median on a mesh grid.

Gnuastro has effectively used the GNU Build System (see bootstrapping tools below) to create a robust and clean infra-structure to glue the utilities and (currently) internal libraries in one whole package which is greater than the sum of its parts. This allows easy additions of new utilities, options to existing utilities, and libraries in a portable manner (usable in a wide variety of Unix-like operating systems). The next release will hopefully include installed libraries.

Contributions from anyone interested are most welcome. To facilitate and encourage your contribution, the Developing chapter of the book thoroughly discusses the design philosophy, the project webpage on Savannah, source code structure, coding conventions along with guidelines and a tutorial on the version controlled (using Git) workflow.

Gnuastro 0.1 has greatly benefited from the contributions of Mosè Giordano and as the maintainer, I am most grateful to him.

Gnuastro 0.1 was bootstrapped with the following tools. Note: these are not installation dependencies, see the Dependencies section of the book for those.

  • Texinfo 6.1
  • Autoconf 2.69
  • Automake 1.15
  • Libtool 2.4.6
  • Help2man 1.47.3
  • Gnulib v0.1-784-gb117e55
  • Autoconf Archives v2016.03.20-33-g69d39ff

Here are the compressed sources and a GPG detached signature[*]:     (3.7MB) (0.5KB)

Use a mirror for higher download bandwidth (note that some mirrors might not have the most recent version immediately):

For the full list of GNU mirrors use the following link (please navigate to the "gnuastro" directory in your chosen mirror):

Here are the MD5 and SHA1 checksums for the compressed source:

ee4919a24efc2aca89379d36a108ae85  gnuastro-0.1.tar.gz
88bba7b97f39fe70ce761e9a81f0f80ed7718ae4  gnuastro-0.1.tar.gz

[*] Use a .sig file to verify that the corresponding file (without the .sig suffix) is intact.  First, be sure to download both the .sig file and the corresponding tarball.  Then, run a command like this:

gpg --verify gnuastro-0.1.tar.gz.sig

If that command fails because you don't have the required public key, then run this command to import the public key:

gpg --keyserver --recv-keys BBE395F8

and rerun the 'gpg --verify' command.

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