The effect of unresolved contaminant stars on the cross-matching of photometric catalogues
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press (OUP) / Royal Astronomical Society
A fundamental process in astrophysics is the matching of two photometric catalogues. It is crucial that the correct objects be paired, and that their photometry does not suffer from any spurious additional flux. We compare the positions of sources in Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), INT Photometric H α Survey, Two Micron All Sky Survey and AAVSO Photometric All Sky Survey with Gaia Data Release 1 astrometric positions. We find that the separations are described by a combination of a Gaussian distribution, wider than naively assumed based on their quoted uncertainties, and a large wing, which some authors ascribe to proper motions. We show that this is caused by flux contamination from blended stars not treated separately. We provide linear fits between the quoted Gaussian uncertainty and the core fit to the separation distributions. We show that at least one in three of the stars in the faint half of a given catalogue will suffer from flux contamination above the 1 per cent level when the density of catalogue objects per point spread function area is above approximately 0.005. This has important implications for the creation of composite catalogues. It is important for any closest neighbour matches as there will be a given fraction of matches that are flux contaminated, while some matches will be missed due to significant astrometric perturbation by faint contaminants. In the case of probability-based matching, this contamination affects the probability density function of matches as a function of distance. This effect results in up to 50 per cent fewer counterparts being returned as matches, assuming Gaussian astrometric uncertainties for WISE–Gaia matching in crowded Galactic plane regions, compared with a closest neighbour match.
TJW acknowledges support from an STFC Studentship. The authors wish to thank the reviewer for their general advice and specific help with clean Gaia flags. This work has made use of the SCIPY (Jones et al. 2001), NUMPY (van der Walt, Colbert & Varoquaux 2011), MATPLOTLIB (Hunter 2007) and F2PY (Peterson 2009) PYTHON modules.
This research has made use of the APASS data base, located at the AAVSO website. Funding for APASS has been provided by the Robert Martin Ayers Sciences Fund. We would also like to thank the team personally for their support and feedback during the early stages of this work.
This paper makes use of data obtained as part of the INT Photometric H α Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS; www.iphas.org) carried out at the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT). The INT is operated on the island of La Palma by the Isaac Newton Group in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias. All IPHAS data are processed by the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit, at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. The bandmerged DR2 catalogue was assembled at the Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, supported by STFC grant ST/J001333/1.
This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.
This publication makes use of data products from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (http://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia), processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC; http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/dpac/consortium). Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement.
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 468, pp. 2517 - 2525