Effects of Diffuse Background Emission and Source Crowding on Photometric Completeness in Spitzer Space Telescope IRAC Surveys: the GLIMPSE Catalogs and Archives
The Astrophysical Journal Supplement, Volume 207, Issue 1, article id. 9, 25 pp. (2013).
Published in Jul 2013
We characterize the completeness of point source lists from Spitzer Space Telescope surveys in the four Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) bandpasses, emphasizing the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) programs (GLIMPSE I, II, 3D, 360; Deep GLIMPSE) and their resulting point source Catalogs and Archives. The analysis separately addresses effects of incompleteness resulting from high diffuse background emission and incompleteness resulting from point source confusion (i.e., crowding). An artificial star addition and extraction analysis demonstrates that completeness is strongly dependent on local background brightness and structure, with high-surface-brightness regions suffering up to five magnitudes of reduced sensitivity to point sources. This effect is most pronounced at the IRAC 5.8 and 8.0 μm bands where UV-excited polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission produces bright, complex structures (photodissociation regions). With regard to diffuse background effects, we provide the completeness as a function of stellar magnitude and diffuse background level in graphical and tabular formats. These data are suitable for estimating completeness in the low-source-density limit in any of the four IRAC bands in GLIMPSE Catalogs and Archives and some other Spitzer IRAC programs that employ similar observational strategies and are processed by the GLIMPSE pipeline. By performing the same analysis on smoothed images we show that the point source incompleteness is primarily a consequence of structure in the diffuse background emission rather than photon noise. With regard to source confusion in the high-source-density regions of the Galactic Plane, we provide figures illustrating the 90% completeness levels as a function of point source density at each band. We caution that completeness of the GLIMPSE 360/Deep GLIMPSE Catalogs is suppressed relative to the corresponding Archives as a consequence of rejecting stars that lie in the point-spread function wings of saturated sources. This effect is minor in regions of low saturated star density, such as toward the Outer Galaxy; this effect is significant along sightlines having a high density of saturated sources, especially for Deep GLIMPSE and other programs observing closer to the Galactic center using 12 s or longer exposure times.
infrared: stars; methods: data analysis; methods: statistical; techniques: image processing