Announcement of Opportunity (AO-2)

Herschel Observing Tools

The tools related to observing planning with Herschel consists of:

  • The HerschelFORM PDFLaTeX package: For writing Herschel proposals with the applicable style and page rules.
  • The Herschel Reserved Observations Search Tool (HROST): Allowing an easy search of existing Astronomical Observation Requests (AORs) contained in the Reserved Observation List around a given point on the sky within a specified radius.
  • The Herschel Duplication Checker (HDC): A standalone web-based tool that identifies all AORs in your proposal that potentially duplicate other approved science observations which are part of the ROL.
  • The Herschel Observation Planning Tool (HSpot) for designing your observations requests and calculating the required observing times.

HerschelFORM PDFLaTeX package

Herschel proposals must be written using the HerschelFORM PDFLaTeX package. The proposal template will allow you to write a proposal that follows the applicable style and page rules. Please follow the instructions given in the appropriate ReadMe file.

Herschel Reserved Observations Search Tool (HROST)

Checks for potential duplications (see the Herschel Duplication Policies document) between your planned observations and already approved AORs can be made using the Herschel Reserved Observations Search Tool (HROST). The tool will enable you to search all the AORs included in the current Reserved Observations List in a simple fashion through a java-based web interface available here (requires Java 1.6 or higher).

Once you start the application you can make queries by entering a position in the sky and a search radius as input and the tool will return as output a summary description of all AORs in the database overlapping your search area.

Potential duplications found using this tool can be further investigated in detail using HSpot. You can access and download those AORs of your interest by using the option "View accepted proposals" under the 'File' menu of HSpot.

In addition, the full Reserved Observations List in ASCII format (tab separated values) is provided "here". This file can be used by proposers to organise the material themselves as they wish.

Herschel Duplication Checker (HDC)

The Herschel Duplication Checker, is a tool intended to help you in the preparation of your OT2 proposals by searching for duplications in your set of AORs with observations included in the Reserved Observation List. A Quick Start Guide is available here.

Herschel Observation planning tool (HSpot)

The Herschel observation planning tool has been built starting from the tool developed for the NASA Spitzer Space Observatory called Spot, thus Herschel-Spot or simply HSpot. The look and feel of this tool is that of the Spitzer tool, but it has been fully adapted for Herschel.

  • Herschel-Spot (HSpot) Users' Guide, PDF (25 Mb) or HTML. Provides information about and how to use the HSpot tool itself for planning Herschel observations.
  • Herschel Observation Planning Tool (HSpot) Changes in HSpot v6.x, PDF (48kb) or HTML. Provides information about the changes in HSpot v6.0 with respect to previous versions.
  • HSpot and Proposal Handling System Known Problems in HSpot 6.x, PDF (96kb) or HTML.


Background and Confusion Noise Estimators

The Herschel observation planning tool HSpot has built in sky background and confusion noise estimator functions.

Herschel Background Estimator. The infrared background estimator provided in HSpot is an extended version of the tool developed for the Spitzer Space Observatory. The background estimator provides the total brightness at a given sky position, as well as the breakdown into its components over the entire Herschel wavelength range.

Information about how the estimator calculates the background can be found in the SSC Background Estimates web page.

Note, however, that for Herschel the sky background power in most cases is far smaller than the radiation power received from its relatively warm telescope, and observations are generally made as differences between sky positions. For Herschel, the background estimator is mainly used as an input to the background confusion noise estimator (see below) which provides on-line guidance within the HSpot session, on where to expect fundamental detection limits for point sources that cannot be improved by increasing the integration time.

Herschel Confusion Noise Estimator (HCNE). The HCNE provides estimates for the confusion noise (i.e. uncertainty of flux determination due to the sky background) for the photometric bands of the Herschel PACS and SPIRE instruments. The confusion noise is specific for the selected observing mode (AOR) and is derived considering the two main astrophyiscal components in the far-infrared: the Galactic cirrus and the cosmic infrared background.

The previous operational version (v015) of HCNE has been updated on May 19, 2010. The base code and logics of confusion noise calculation in the present version (v019) are the same as in v015, and these basic details are summarized in the HCNE/v015 Release Note. Changes from HCNE/v015 to the present HCNE/v019 version are described in the HCNE/v019 Release Note.

Information about how the HCNE calculates the confusion noise is described in the Herschel Confusion Noise Estimator Science Implementation Document and further information can be obtained in the Konkoly Observatory Confusion Noise webpages.The HCNE is developed under the scientific coordination of Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, with the coordination of the Herschel Science Centre and with the participation of the NASA Herschel Science Center.