JWST ETC Imaging Aperture Photometry Strategy

The JWST Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) calculates the signal-to-noise ratio for imaging modes of all JWST instruments, and for the NIRISS aperture masking interferometry mode, using the Imaging Aperture Photometry strategy. The user specifies the apertures for extracting the source flux and background flux.

The Imaging Aperture Photometry strategy presents users with various options to define the size, and location for the photometry aperture used for extracting the source flux. The background flux is determined from the Sky annulus whose inner radius and outer radius are also provided as input parameters.

Figure 1. Layout of the strategy tab for ETC calculations for the imaging modes

Layout of the strategy tab for ETC calculations for the imaging modes


The following parameters are to be provided for Imaging Aperture Photometry:

  • Aperture location: (1) The aperture may be centered on any desired source within the scene used for the calculation. The drop-down menu is populated with a list of the sources available in the scene from which the selection can be made. (2) The aperture may be chosen to be at any desired location within the scene (that is, not necessarily centered on a source) by specifying the X- and Y-offsets in arcsec from the scene center.

  • Aperture radius: The aperture used for imaging aperture photometry is circular, and this parameter specifies the radius in arcsec of the circular aperture used for extraction.

  • Perform Background Subtraction Using: There is an option to perform background subtraction using the background estimated from a background region specified by the user, or using a noiseless sky background. The background region is defined by specifying the inner radius and outer radius parameters for the Sky annulus.

    Note that when a Sky Annulus is specified, it includes contamination from all sources within the scene that contribute to the annulus in addition to the sky, e.g., when overlapping sources are present, or extended profile wings of the source itself contributes to the background extraction aperture. When the background subtraction is performed, the contamination and sky contributions are subtracted. The estimated contamination from sources within the scene over the sky background is reported in the ETC output Reports pane as Fraction of total background due to signal from the scene

    If the option to use the noiseless sky background is selected, then the count rate corresponding to the sky background chosen in the Backgrounds tab is used for background subtraction. When the noiseless sky background is opted for background subtraction, the contamination from within the scene is not subtracted from the extracted source flux. The users may want to consider using a noiseless sky background in some cases, for example, when performing photometry of a source that is located on a bright extended background with significant gradient within the background annulus.  Also, a noiseless sky background may be preferred when performing point source photometry with a constant aperture radius and doing a batch expansion over filters, to account for the larger PSF at longer wavelengths.

  • Shape: The imaging aperture photometry uses a circular aperture.




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Latest updates
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    Updated for ETC v1.3

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    additional text about background