Wise photometry for 400 million SDSS sources

Dustin Lang, David W. Hogg, David J. Schlegel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We present photometry of images from the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) of over 400 million sources detected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). We use a "forced photometry" technique, using measured SDSS source positions, star-galaxy classification, and galaxy profiles to define the sources whose fluxes are to be measured in the WISE images. We perform photometry with The Tractor image modeling code, working on our "unWISE" coaddds and taking account of the WISE point-spread function and a noise model. The result is a measurement of the flux of each SDSS source in each WISE band. Many sources have little flux in the WISE bands, so often the measurements we report are consistent with zero given our uncertainties. However, for many sources we get 3σ or 4σ measurements; these sources would not be reported by the "official" WISE pipeline and will not appear in the WISE catalog, yet they can be highly informative for some scientific questions. In addition, these small-signal measurements can be used in stacking analyses at the catalog level. The forced photometry approach has the advantage that we measure a consistent set of sources between SDSS and WISE, taking advantage of the resolution and depth of the SDSS images to interpret the WISE images; objects that are resolved in SDSS but blended together in WISE still have accurate measurements in our photometry. Our results, and the code used to produce them, are publicly available at http://unwise.me.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number36
    JournalAstronomical Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


    • catalogs
    • methods: data analysis
    • surveys
    • techniques: image processing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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