JWST ETC Backgrounds
The JWST ETC incorporates the JWST backgrounds in the calculation of signal to noise for a specified exposure time. JWST backgrounds vary with position on the sky and time of the year. The user may use a dated or dateless background option for a given celestial position.
Video Tutorial: ETC Backgrounds
Backgrounds in the JWST Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) are obtained using the Backgrounds Model Generator (BMG), and account for the various components that contribute to the JWST background. This includes the in-field components from the zodiacal cloud and the Milky Way, out-of-field stray light, thermal self-emission from the telescope (which dominates the background at wavelengths >15 μm), and dark current.
The JWST ETC calculates backgrounds for a given celestial position. The J2000 RA and Dec for the position in the sky can be provided in either of the following formats: "hh mm ss.s ±dd mm ss.s" or "hh:mm:ss.s ±dd:mm:ss".
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JWST ETC Reports provide the "Input Background Surface Brightness" (in MJy/steradian), as well as the "Total Flux in Background Aperture" and "Total Sky Background Flux in Background Aperture" (both in units of e–/s). The "Total Sky Background Flux in Background Aperture" can also be seen graphically in the ApBackground tab in the Plots pane (see JWST ETC Images and Plots). The computed background spectrum can be downloaded as a FITS table as described in the JWST ETC Downloads article.
The JWST ETC can be used to check whether the observations will be background limited, and whether the background-limited special requirement should be specified in the JWST Astronomers Proposal Tool (APT). The procedure to determine whether the observations are background-limited is described in the article on JWST Background-Limited Observations.
When using backgrounds in the ETC, the best results are achieved using a "dated" background for the on-sky position of the target. Choosing a percentile option (Low/Medium/High) instead of specifying a date is not ideal due to the spatial coarseness of the background models with respect to, e.g., infrared cirrus.
The recommended procedure for users that believe their observations are background-limited is as follows:
- Use the ETC to determine the optimal detector parameters. Specify the position of the target in the Position input box.
- Transfer these detector parameters to the proper template in the APT. Use the Visit Planner in the APT to compute the dates when the target is within the JWST field of regard.
- Return to the ETC and repeat the calculation from step 1. Specify a Date when the target is observable under Background Configuration.
- Adjust the detector parameters given the more accurate background estimation.
- Update the APT file with any changes.
For observations with tight timing constraints, the date can be specified from the beginning to determine the optimal parameters to transfer to APT, without following all of the steps above.
For moving targets, users will likely need to retrieve the target position from JPL Horizons as part of step 3. Use of the default or a placeholder in step 1 is appropriate since the background position and date will be refined in later steps.
The default background position is RA=00:00:00.00, Dec=00:00:00.0. A list of other potentially useful positions are included in Table 1. Users are advised to use the General Target Visibility Tool (GTVT) to determine the dates when a specified celestial position is observable.
Table 1. List of background positions
|North Ecliptic Pole (NEP)||18:00:00.00||66:33:38.5|
|South Ecliptic Pole (NEP)||06:00:00.00||-66:33:38.5|
|Hubble Deep Field North (HDF-N)||12:36:49.50||62:12:58.0|
|Hubble Deep Field South (HDF-S)||22:32:56.00||-60:33:00.0|
|Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF)||03:32:39.00||-27:47:29.0|
|North Celestial Pole (NCP)||00:00:00.00||90:00:00.0|
|South Celestial Pole (SCP)||00:00:00.00||-90:00:00.0|
|Kepler FOV Center (Primary mission)||19:22:40.00||44:30:00.0|