regre The IDL Astronomy User's Library

Links to other Astronomy and IDL related sites

General IDL Resources

General Information about IDL from Exelis Visual Information Solutions
Exelis Visual Information Solutions (formerly ITTVIS, formerly RSI) is the manufacturer of IDL, and this is the Web site to obtain a summary of IDL functionality, information about pricing and supported machines, or to download an IDL demo. The site also contains a section of IDL Help Articles, and videos on using IDL. The current IDL version is 8.5, and the IDL documentation is available online. Exelis VIS maintains a blog on programming, visualization and data analysis with IDL at The IDL Datapoint .
IDL Forums
The main forum for discussion and questions about the IDL language is the Usenet newsgroup comp.lang.idl-pvwave . Exelis also maintains a less active User forum . Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about IDL are probably most likely to be answered in one of the several hundred (!) IDL Programming Tips and Tricks available in David Fanning's Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming.
Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming
The first place to look for tips on IDL programming is this large and well-maintained website from independent IDL consultant David Fanning. The IDL Astronomy Library includes a subset of the "Coyote" IDL library, and anyone using IDL direct graphics is encouraged to download this library. The RSS feed provides useful details about updates to the Library. David is also the author of the books IDL Programming Techniques" (2000) and Coyote's Guide to Traditional IDL Graphics (2011).
IDL Plotting Tools:
Several groups have written IDL widgets to allow interactive manipulation of a plot. David Fanning's CGZPLOT allows one to zoom and pan across a plot. The FUSE group in Paris has written Xiplot (V2.18 Octs 2014) which can read a FITS binary table and allows some spectral manipulation. The program in the TARA package includes fitting and shifting procedures. The well-documented plotting widget GRAFFER by James Tappin (U. of Birmingham), was last updated (Version 4.05a) in August 2012. Pavel Romashkin's IDL Library includes a 2-D plotting DISPLAY widget (Version 3.2 last updated May 2013). The Coyote Graphics Plot Gallery allows one to click on numerous example plots to see the IDL code used to create it. Leonardo Ubeda (STScI) has developed AstroPlotLib which is a similar, but more astronomy-oriented, clickable plot gallery.
ICG (Institute for Chemistry and Dynamic of the Geosphere) Library 
This large library of IDL programs at the ForschungsZentrum Jülich in Germany includes procedures for conversion of IDL variables and structures into html code, plotting, programming tools, widgets, and a interface to a facsimile differential equation solver for chemical reactions. Version 13.0 was released in November 2013.
JHU/APL(Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory) IDL Library
Ray Sterner created this large general IDL library at the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory. The site also includes several IDL tutorials. Last updated Oct 2014.
Ken Bowman's IDL page
Ken Bowman (Texas A&M) is the author of the 2005 book An Introduction to Programming with IDL for beginning programmers.
Database access
Exelis sells DATAMINER , an add-on module that allows one to connect to multiple databases from IDL. Marc Buie developed an MySQL interface using bidirectional pipes. Sergey Koposov has developed idl-sql,, which alllows one to execute SQL queries from IDL and retrieve the results of these queries in IDL. It uses the IDL-Java bridge and the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC). He has also adapted software from Erin Sheldon for accessing a Postgresql database, that does not use the IDL-Java bridge.
Rob Dimeo's IDL Library
This IDL library the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is particularly useful for PAN a general-purpose curve fitting utility with a graphical user interface (last updated May 2005), an IDL implementation of a genetic algorithm, and a visualization of 1d quantum dynamics (last updated July 2007). There is also an IDL course manual providing an introduction to widget and object programming
This site is maintained by Andreas Reigber as a resource about radar remote sensing. Besides IDL software for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), it includes a general IDL library which contains tools to extend IDL capabilities in linear algebra and Fourier transforms.
Michael Galloy's Resources for IDL Developers
This readable blog by a former RSI instructor and consultant discusses IDL (and non-IDL) techniques for visualization and information design. Mike also maintains IDLDOC , a utility for producing documentation for any valid IDL code, rIDL , an IDL command line replacement similar to ipython, mgunit a framework for unit testing for IDL, and an excellent personal IDL library New. Mike is the author of Modern IDL: A Guide to IDL programming , which was last revised in Sep 2015 to include updates on IDL 8.5.
Mark Hadfield's Motley IDL Library
This IDL library at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand includes several Object Graphics classes, a base class for widget applications and several applications built on it, functions that make it easy to represent scaled data on axes, classes for accessing netCDF files and several utility routines. Last updated February 2015.
Ronn Kling Consulting
This site is probably most useful for its C code available as DLM (dynamically linked modules) to enhance IDL capabilities. Ronn Kling is the author of the books Application Development with IDL (1999), Calling C and C++ from IDL (2001), Power Graphics with IDL(2002), Navigating the IDL Workbench(2007), Object-Oriented Programming with IDL (2010), and most recently Using Python from IDL (2014)
Craig Markwardt's IDL Library
This IDL library at the University of Wisconsin includes many well-documented plotting, utility, ephemeris, mathematics and robust curve-fitting procedures. Last updated April 2013.
Mathew Craig's TeXtoIDL Software
This software translates the TeX character set into the (often obscure) IDL plotting symbol codes. Version 2.1.2 updated June 2004. This code has been mostly supplanted by CGSYMBOL in the Coyote Graphics Library
David Windt's IDL Library
This IDL library at Reflective X-ray Optics LLC includes procedures for plotting, curve fitting, and image analysis. Also includes IMD, a widget tool for analysis of optical multilayers. Last updated July 2014
IDL Text Editor modes
Although IDL comes an Eclipse-based development environment, some users prefer a traditional text editor with an IDL language mode. The Emacs mode for IDL is maintained by JD Smith at the University of Arizona. Version 6.5 was released in January 2011 and is included in the current Emacs release . An IDL .plist mode for TextWrangler/BBEdit on the Mac is available from Will Powell. Alfred de Wijn wrote code to improve the VIM editor support for IDL
IDL Wavelet Software:
Since V8.0, IDL includes a wavelet toolkit (which was formerly available as a separate addon). Christopher Torrence and Gilbert Campo have written a Practical Guide to Wavelet Analysis with applications in geophysics, and include some IDL software. Multi Resolutions Ltd. sells a software package for Multiresolution Analysis which includes about 5000 lines of IDL code.
Free IDL Clones
The following two actively developed languages are similar to IDL, though they may lack some features, and have limited documentation. The GNU Data Language (GDL) is an Open Source clone of IDL, currently at Version 0.9.5 (Oct-2014). The Fawlty Language (FL) is an IDL8 compatible compiler, currently at version 0.79.32 (Apr 2015).
Commercial Add-ons
Some companies sell products to enhance the capabilities of IDL. Exelis sells the Advanced Math & Statistics Library (formerly "IDL Analyst") which adds the capablities of the IMSL(TM) C Numerical Library to IDL The Tech-X corporation sells GPULib, which provides IDL bindings to the CUDA platform for high performance computing.

Astronomy IDL Software Sites

ACS (Advanced Camera for Surveys) analysis software
The ACS was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope in March 2002. The calibration team IDL software includes procedures for spreadsheet and sound file manipulation along with calibration image analysis. Maurizio Paolillo (University of Napoli) has written multiking_ to add a simulated PSF or Globular Clusters to HST ACS flt images.
Adaptive Optics Software
The Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) at the Lick Observatory provides links to several AO packages which use IDL including an AO Simulation Package written by Francois Rigaut, StarFinder software (v1.6f) first written in August 2000 to analyze stellar fields from AO images, and Virtual Telescope Software to simulate telescope observing parameters (e.g. S/N). The CAOS - Code for Adaptive Optics System system at Arcetri Observatory is composed of a graphical programming environment, which can load different packages including the CAOS software package (V5.2, April 2007), the MAOS (Multiconjugate Adaptive Optics Simulations) package, and the AIRY image reconstruction package. Tuan Do (UCLA) has written Fourier Optics GUI (fgui), New an IDL widget that computes and displays the effect of adding phase aberrations for apertures of different shapes
AIT (Astronomical Institute of Tübingen) IDL software
The AIT Library includes IDL procedures for analyzing X-ray astronomy data, and provides a nice up-to-date interface to the IDL Astronomy Library. It also provides access to the TRIPP (Time Resolved Imaging PHotometry Package) software, and to procedures for time-series analysis.
Aladin Interface
Aladin is an interactive software sky atlas allowing the user to visualize digitized astronomical images, superimpose entries from astronomical catalogues or databases. Since February 2007, an IDL interface has been available, using the IDL_Java bridge to allow users to launch Aladin, load images, load tables, select object in tables, etc. from the IDL prompt.
ATV Image Display Tool
ATV is an image display widget written by Aaron Barth (UC Irvine), that is modeled after the SAOimage display package. The current version is 3.0b5, last modified 18-Jun-2015 and includes astronomical coordinate tracking, radial profile plots, choice of coordinate systems, and the ability to read FITS extensions. A modified version of ATV called SMTV which includes WCS overlays, DS9 region files, and image cube options is available in the SMART data analysis package. Ken Mighell (NOAO) and his students have written PHAST based on ATV, but which includes additional photometry/astrometry tools. Version 1.41 was released in June 2013.
Jeremy Bailin's IDL Utilities (JBIU )
Jeremy Bailin makes available a small library of astronomy and miscellaneous routines. Last updated May 2015 (jbiu-1.2.tga)
Chris Beaumont's IDL Code
Chris Beaumont (U. of Hawaii) makes available some of his IDL routines, iincluding procedures for Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations, kinematic distances, robust methods, and vector and stack classes. Last updated August 2011.
Gonzalo Aniono (Princeton) and colleagues have written, a routine to generate multiwavelength images with a common PSF.
CosmoStat. New Software
The CosmoStat group at the AIM laboratory of CEA/Saclay has developed a large collection of mainly IDL based software for statistics and cosmology. In particular, the Interactive Sparse Astronomical data Analysis Package (ISAP) includes well-documented IDL code for analysis of data on the sphere.
Atomic Database Programs
CHIANTI consists of a suite of IDL programs and a database of atomic data for calculating synthetic spectra in the region between 50 A and 1100 A. This site at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) includes extensive documentation. Version 7.1.5 was released in March 2014. The Package for Interactive Analysis of Line Emission (PINTofALE) at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CFA) uses CHIANTI for the analysis of spectroscopic data from optically-thin coronal plasmas. Version 2.954 was last updated August 2013. The Chandra X-ray Center has an IDL interface to Version V2.0.0 (December 2003) of the Atomic Database (ATOMDB) for X-ray spectral modeling. Jan-Uwe Ness ASU) and Rainer Wichmann (Hamburg) have developed CORA a maximum-likelihood line-fitting package for X-ray spectra that can be run in IDL or C. V4.1 was released in May 2009. P.G. Judge (HAO) has developed HAOS-DIPER New to manipulate data for neutral atoms and atomic ions in space plasmas, notably solar and stellar atmospheres. Version 1.1 was released in Jan. 2013.
Cosmology Routines
ICOSMO is a general purpose interactive Cosmology calculations package that allows one to easily calculate a wide range of cosmological function from distances and dark matter power spectra to observable correlation functions and dark energy Fisher matrix prediction. Version 1.2 of the IDL source code was released in July 2010. John Moustakas (UC San Diego) and Leonidas Moustakas (JPL) have developed RED a set of cosmology routines written in IDL (last updated June 2006). Marco Barden (MPIA) has written FERENGI ( Full and Efficient Redshifting Ensemble of Nearby Galaxy Images) which uses the K corrections to model the appearance of a galaxy at any redshift. Ivan Baldry (Liverpool John Moores) has developed the IDL code AUTOZ, to automatically determine the redshift from (AAT) spectra. New
Dan Bramich (ESO) has released a library of mainly astronomy-related IDL procedures including routines for image differencing, Delaunay triangle source matching, and synthesis functions. The entire library is available for a one-time subscription fee, but a subset of the DanIDL routines is available in the public domain via the DanIDL-Lite library. Version 2.0 of DanIDL-Lite was released in June 2012.
Education and Instruction Astronomy IDL Pages
Robert O'Connell (U. of Virginia) has written a guide to IDL for Astronomers including exercises for class work (last updated Jan 2015). Robert da Silva (Lick Observatory) has written A Slug's Guide to IDL. It is an actively updated IDL resource with simplified explanations and examples. Carl Heiles (UC Berkeley) has written a set of postscript file tutorials on Learning IDL for Astronomy . L. Nicastro (INAF-IASF) presented an IDL primer course in June 2009.
Exoplanet Software
Jason Wright (Cornell) and Andrew Howard (Berkeley) make available RVLIN, an IDL package for efficient fitting of multi-planet Keplerian models to radial velocity and astrometric data. Version 2.12 was released in July 2014. The site also includes a robust parameter uncertainty estimator for RVLIN (V1.1 released October 2012). Jason Eastman (Ohio State) and colleagues make available EXOFAST a robust suite of IDL routines designed to fit exoplanetary transits and radial velocity variations and characterize the parameter uncertainties and covariances with a Differential Evolution Markov Chain Monte Carlo method. EXOFAST J. Zachary Gazak (U. of Hawaii) and colleagues distribute the Transit Analysis Package (TAP) an IDL Widget which utilizes Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) techniques to fit transit light curves. Brian Jackson (Carnegie Inst.) and colleagues have developed developed EVIL-MC. (Ellipsoidal Variations Induced by a Low-Mass Companion) (to calculate stellar ellipsoidal variations and planetary phase function. R. Iglesias-Marzoa (Universidad de La Laguna) has written . RVFIT, which fits non-precessing Keplerian radial velocity (RV) curves for double-line and single-line binary stars or exoplanets using an adaptive simulated annealing algorithm. New
EZ_Ages is an IDL code package that computes the mean, light-weighted stellar population age, [Fe/H], and abundance enhancements [Mg/Fe], [C/Fe], [N/Fe], and [Ca/Fe] for unresolved stellar populations. This is accomplished by comparing Lick index line strengths between the data and the stellar population models of Schiavon (2007), using a method described in Graves &.Schiavon (2008).
Fermi Analysis Software
The Fermi Science team makes available rmfit, which will create lightcurves, fit backgrounds, and fit single or multiple spectra for NaI and BGO detectors. It was written by R. Preece, M. Briggs, and V. Connaughton (U. of Alabama, Huntsville).
IGALFIT: An IDL Interactive Tool for GALFIT
R Ryan (Space Telescope Science Institue) developed the IGALFIT package, for the primary purpose of modeling galaxy images with GALFIT. However, the package has several ancillary uses, including a flexible image display routines, several basic photometry functions, and qualitatively assessing SourceExtractor output. V1.1 was released in October 2011.
GALAPAGOS: Galaxy Analysis over Large Areas: Parameter Assessment by GALFITting Objects from Sextractor
Marco Barden (University of Innsbruck) developed the GALAPAGOS package, which combines object detection with SExtractor and light profile modelling with GALFIT to help automate the analysis of large astronomical imaging survey data sets.
Group K IDL User's Library
This is a collection of general purpose and high energy astrophysics routines written by members of the particle astrophysics group at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. A good site for mathematics and statistics routines. Last updated 04/99.
The Hammer An IDL Spectral Typing Suite
The Hammer spectral typing algorithm was originally developed for use on late-type SDSS spectra, but has subsequently been modified to allow it to classify spectra in a variety of formats with targets spanning the MK spectral sequence..Written and maintained by Kevin Covey (Harvard), Andrew A. West, and John J. Bochanski. V1.2 was written in Dec 09.
Joe Harrington's IDL packages
Joe Harrington (U. of Central Florida) make several IDL packages available including DeFringeflat - a wavelet transform to defringe flats, Optspecextr - optimal extraction of a point source spectrum, "Synthspec" for producing mock spectra from a spectrograph, and "MaskInterp" for repairing bad pixels using a non-linear surface fit to neighboring good pixels.
HIIphot V5.0 Software
This IDL software package developed by D. Thilker (NMSU, 2000 AJ, 120, 3070 ) is designed for accurate photometric characterization of H II regions while permitting genuine adaptivity to irregular source morphology. HIIphot utilizes object recognition techniques to make a first guess at the shapes of all sources and then allows for departure from such idealized ``seeds'' through an iterative growing procedure.
IDL-CSPICE Interface (ICY)
Ed Wright (JPL) has developed an IDL DLM interface to the C version of the SPICE ephemeris/geometry library which is used to read/write spacecraft navigation trajectory data files (known as kernels), perform various geometry calculations and time conversions. The IDL directory contains five directories corresponding to different hardware platforms.
IDLAstro Contrib directories
/beck the neural network classifier procedure and training program
/bhill The object-oriented display widgets XCTV, XCTV2, XCTVN for roaming, zooming, scaling and examining pixel values in one, two or many images (last updated 27-Apr-2004).
/freudenreich ROBLIB, a set of mathematical and statistical procedures for robust data analysis
/knight LOOK - a (large) widget image display program
/ RXTE - contains "IDL Extractor" programs to extract light curves, spectra and power spectra from RXTE data (and also Swift and Chandra data). Version 1.2 updated Februrary 2009
Integral Field Spectroscopy Software
Christer Sandin (Potsdam) and collaborators have written P3d , a general data-reduction IDL widget for analyzing data from fiber-fed integral field spectrographs (IFSs). V2.2.6 released Sep 2014. Adam S. Bolton (IfA) and Scott Burles (MIT ) have written kungifu a set of IDL software routines designed for the calibration and reduction of fiber-fed integral-field unit (IFU) astronomical spectroscopy. F. F. Rosales-Ortega (Cambridge, IEM-CSIC) has written PINGSoft2, set of IDL routines (last updated November 2012) designed to visualise and interactively manipulate integral field spectroscopic data. The software was originally designed to handle Califa data. C. Iserlohe ( Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik) has written the IDL GUI packages UNYS and CHI2 to deconvolve a line-of-sight-velocity-profile from an object spectrum using a template spectrum. The programs were designed to work on near-infrared spectrographs SPIFFI and ISAAC. The current version V2.1 (beta) was released in August 2003. Mark Westmoquette (UCL) has modified the PAN curve-fitting widget from Rob Dimeo for use with astronomical spectra. An IDL package for 3D Fabry-Perot Data Reduction Software was developed at the Université de Montréal and was designed for the FaNTOmM integral field spectrometer. Rogemar A. Riffel (Universidade Federal de Santa Maria) has written PROFIT (Emission-line PROfile FITting routine) to do automated fitting of emission-line profiles by Gaussian curves or Gauss-Hermite series optimized for use in Integral Field and Fabry-Perot data cubes. V1.2 released Sep. 2011. David Rupke (Rhodes College) has written IFSRED , a general-purpose library for reducing data from integral field spectrographs. He has also writen IFSFIT IDL library for fitting the continuum, emission lines, and absorption lines in integral field spectra
IMAGE spacecraft analysis software
The IMAGE spacecraft was launched in March 2000 to study the Earth's magnetosphere, and IDL analysis software includes EUV_IMTOOL , a image processing widget for images from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUV), and software for the Far-Ultraviolet Imager (FUV) . IDL interfaces are available to read the Universal Data Format (UDF).
Spitzer and Infrared Astronomy software
The Spitzer Science Center distributes several IDL tools including the large SMART (IRS Spectroscopy Modeling Analysis and Reduction Tool) package (Version 8.2.9 released September 2014). This package is designed to analyze data from the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) but includes many useful general astronomy tools. JD Smith (U. of Arizona) developed CUBISM , a tool for constructing spectral cubes, maps, and arbitrary aperture 1D spectral extractions from sets of mapping mode spectra taken with Spitzer's IRS spectrograph (V1.8 released July 2011). He also makes available PAHFIT , an IDL tool for decomposing Spitzer IRS spectra of polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission sources. (Version 1.2 released in October 2006). Matthieu Bethermin and collegues at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS) make available IDL software for analysis of infrared galaxies, including stacking of Spitzer images (V1.0 release Dec 2009), PSF fitting with position priors (V1.0 release May 2010), and a model of the infrared sky. Sarah Kendrew (Leiden Observatory) has written IDL code to compute the sensitivity of a ground-based mid-infrared instrument, originally written for the proposed Mid-Infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) . Dan Li (U. of Florida) has written IDEALCam ( Interactive Data Reduction and Analysis for CanariCam ), an efficient tool to access, reduce, and analyze multi-extension mid-IR FITS files . The Instrument Definition Teams for the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) developed their interactive analysis software in IDL, and the software and documentation can be accessed from the ISO Data Center in VillaFranca, Spain. Access to the ISO software in the U.S. is available from the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) . The Infrared Science Archive (IRSA) provides IDL tools for querying their catalogs and reading and writing the IPAC table format.
Instrument Reduction Pipelines
The MASE: (MAGE Spectral Extractor) IDL software was written by John Bochanski (MIT) and collaborators to reduce data from the Magellan Echellete Spectrograph (MAGE) . Reduction steps include flatfielding, spectral extraction, wavelength and flux calibrations. V1.0 was released in Sep 09. The MMIRS data reduction pipelineNew is an IDL software package to reduce long-slit and multi-slit spectroscopic observations collected using the MMT and the Magellan Infrared Spectrograph (MMIRS).
Interferometry: Optical and Infrared
The Optical Interferometer Script Data Reduction package Oyster was developed at the US Naval Observatory as a comprehensive system for displaying, editing, averaging, calibrating, and modeling interferometry data. V8.00 was released in September 2013. The MIDI Interactive Analysis (MIA) software was developed at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA) to analyze data from the MID-infrared Interferometric instrument (MIDI) on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Version 2.0 was released Oct 2012. John Monnier (U. of Michigan) has developed an IDL interface to (OIFITS) to read OIFITS (Optical Interferometry FITS) data, which is a proposed standard for storing optical interferometry data in FITS binary tables. It was last updated in Jan 2013.
Jason Prochaska's XIDL software
This site at the Lick Observatory includes procedures for modeling and analyzing spectra of damped Ly Alpha absorption lines (DLA), but includes some routines generally useful for spectroscopy and photometry. V3.0 was released in June 2010.
Jesùs Maíz-Apellániz' Astronomy software
This site in Granada, Spain includes CHORIZOS, a chi-square code to compare photometry with model spectral energy distributions, MULTISPEC, software for reducing images of slitless spectra, and JMAPLOT, a simplified wrapper to the IDL plotting routines.
LACOSMIC (LAplacian COSMIC ray identification) software
LACOSMIC (Van Dokkum 2001, PASP, 113, 1420) is an algorithm for robust cosmic ray identification using Laplacian edge detection. IDL code is included at Peter van Dokkum's Yale website for the case of imaging.
Marc Buie's Astronomy IDL software (CCDPHOT, ITOOL)
Includes the IDL widget programs CCDPHOT to process CCD data, and ITOOL for general image processing, which were developed at Lowell Observatory for the processing of solar system CCD images. Contains many useful IDL procedures for astronomical analysis. Continuously updated.
Markus Feldt's Astronomy Packages
Markus Feldt at MPIA Heidelberg makes available two IDL packages: SimVLTI for simulating observations with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Paranal, Chile, and A/O (Version 0.37.2) a package to analyze data taken by array cameras, in particular the ALFA/OMEGA (Adaptive optics with a Laser For Astronomy) system.
Cosmic Microwave and Far-Infrared Analysis Software
The IDL software package for the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) (Version 3.1 updated June 2014) includes time/coordinate conversion and pixelization algorithms useful for microwave background analysis. WMAP and most other CMB experiments use the HEALPix (Hierarchical Equal Area isoLatitude Pixelisation) pixelization scheme, and the HEALPix collaboration includes IDL software for fast and accurate statistical and astrophysical analysis of full-sky data sets (Version 3.30 updated October 2015). Chris North (University of Oxford) has written additional IDL routines which interface to HEALPix to visualise and manipulate maps of the sky. Older code includes the analysis software for the COsmic Background Explorer (COBE) which was primarily written in IDL (Version 4.1 released June 1999). Scanamorphos is an IDL software to build maps from scan observations made with bolometer arrays, in particular with the PACS and SPIRE photometers onboard the Herschel space telescope. Version 24 was released in July 2014. FTFitterNew is an IDL widget for fitting FTS spectra from the SPIRE (Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver) instrument on Herschel. Version 1.93 was released in Jan 2015.
MIMIR Data Reduction Software
MIMIR is a near-infrared instrument built at Boston University and Lowell Observatory. The software includes a GUI-based IDL "project" that performs all the raw data intake, quality testing, bookkeeping, dark/flat/linearity corrections, and wavelength calibration needed to generate "science ready" images. Version 3.4.2 was released in July 2014.
Multi-Gaussian Expansion (MGE) Fits to Galaxies
An IDL package MGE_FIT_SECTORS written by Michele Cappellari (Leiden Observatory), including examples and instructions, to obtain an efficient MGE parameterization for a galaxy surface brightness. Last updated July 2014. The site also contains the program VORONOI_2D_BINNING to bin two-dimensional data to a constant signal-to-noise ratio per bin (last updated November 2006), and the program PPXF to extract galaxy stellar kinematics from absorption line spectra. Davor Krajnović (Oxford University) makes available the KINEMETRY package, for analysis of 2D maps of (kinematic) moments of the line-of-sight-velocity distribution (LOSVD).
Photoionization Modeling
Bent Groves (Sterrewacht Leiden ) has written ITERA (IDL Tool for Emission-line Ratio Analysis) widget tool which allows one to plot ratios of any strong atomic and ionized emission lines as determined by standard photoionization and shock models. Last updated October 2009. Hendrik Spoon has written MPE IDL Cloudy Environment (MICE) an IDL interface to the popular photoionization code CLOUDY . Also, Christophe Morisset (UNAM) has written CLOUDY_3D, a pseudo-3D photoionization IDL wrapper to CLOUDY which is available on request.
Planetary Data System (PDS) format readers
The Small Bodies Node (SBN) at the University of Maryland provides IDL procedures for reading images and tables in the PDS format. Version 4.7 was released in July 2015. The Observatory of Paris provides an alternate IDL procedure for reading PDS files as part of the EuroPlaNet project, that is especially well-suited for spectral cubes. Version 3.1 was released in June 2013.
Photometric Data Extractor (PODEX)
PODEX is an IDL widget written by Thomas Kallinger (Institut fur Astronomie, Vienna) to obtain light curves from photometric CCD data
PROPER IDL-based simulation of light through an optical system.
PROPER is a library of IDL routines developed by John Krist (JPL) to simulate the propagation of light through an optical system. It automatically applies near and far field propagators. It includes functions to create complex apertures, model a deformable mirror, and create amplitude and phase aberrations (Zernike, PSD-defined, user-generated map).. A detailed manual is available. Version 2.0 was released in January 2015.
Radio Astronomy Software
IDL procedures have been developed at the National Astronomy and Ionospheric Center's Arecibo Observatory for reducing spectral line and mapping data. PACERMAN (Polarisation Angle CorrEcting Rotation Measure ANalysis) is an IDL code to calculate Faraday rotation measure maps from multi-frequency polarisation angle data (V1.2 released August 2005). GBTIDL is an interactive package for reduction and analysis of spectral line data taken with the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Version 2.9 was released in September 2013. Erik Rosolowsky (CFA) and Adam Leroy (UC/Berkeley) have developed the CPROPS package. to characterize molecular cloud properties in a molecular line data cube. Their software uses the CLUMPFIND algorithm developed by Jonathan Williams (Hawaii) to find local peaks in data cubes. MIR is a complete IDL package to reduce data obtained with the Smithsonian Submillimeter Array (SMA) Last updated February 2015.
SGP-IDL Package for the single and multiple deconvolution of 2D images corrupted by Poisson noise
SGP-IDL was developed by M. Prato (Modena) and colleagues. It computes a deconvolved image by early stopping of the scaled gradient projection (SGP) algorithm for the solution of the optimization problem coming from the minimization of the generalized Kullback-Leibler divergence between the computed image and the observed image. The algorithms have been implemented also for Graphic Processing Units (GPUs).
Shapelets IDL Software
Shapelets are a complete, orthonormal set of 2D basis functions constructed from Laguerre or Hermite polynomials weighted by a Gaussian which can be used to model any image, and are especially useful for galaxy modeling. Richard Massey and Alexandre Refregier (CalTech) make their well-documented IDL shapelet code publicly available (Version 2.2 released May 2008). Dave Goldberg (Drexel U.) uses shapelets for his IDL flexion code for analyzing distortions due to gravitational lensing. Rachel Mandelbaum (Carnegie-Mellon) has developed SHERA (SHear Recovolution Analysis) , an IDL software package to generate realistic, optionally sheared galaxy images as they would appear from a ground-based telescope, using HST galaxy images to represent realistic galaxies, and user-supplied PSFs for the ground-based data to be simulated.
SIMPLE Imaging and Mosaicking Pipeline
SIMPLE is an IDL based data reduction package for optical and near-IR blank-field imaging observations developed by W.H. Wang (NRAO). While it is currently optimized for the MOIRCS camera on Subaru and the WIRCAM camera on CFHT, its subroutines are written as generally as possible. Version 1.1 was released in Aug. 2008
Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) IDL Software
Some researchers from SDSS institutions keep their analysis software for SDSS images and spectra publicly available. Erin Scott Sheldon maintains the SDSSIDL library , which includes IDL wrappers to C/C++ routines for postgres database interface, efficient file input/output, and efficient ra/dec searching using the Hierarchical Triangular Mesh (HTM). V1.7 was released in January 2012. The IDL SDSS spectroscopy software at Princeton can be downloaded as tar files, and documentation is available for the IDLSPEC2D and IDLUTILS libraries. Mike Blanton (NYU) has written IDL code to calculate galaxy K-corrections and spectral energy distributions (Version 4.2 released in February 2010). Vivienne Wild & Paul Hewett (Institute of Astronomy) make IDL code available for removing residual sky features (OH lines) from SDSS spectra. Her page also includes IDL code for iterative robust and iterative principal component analysis (PCA). David Hogg (NYU) maintains a page with IDL code for proper color representation of multi-band imaging.
SME (Spectroscopy Made Easy)
SME is IDL software and a compiled external library by J. Valenti (STScI) that fits an observed high-resolution stellar spectrum with a synthetic spectrum to determine stellar parameters. The latest version is 423, released May 2014. Nikolai Piskusnov (Uppsala) makes available the IDL package REDUCE (Piskunov & Valenti 2002, A & A, 385, 1095) and also includes a small general IDL library. Additional IDL programs for s modeling stellar spectra are made available by Oleg Kochukhov (Uppsala).
Solar Software Library
Includes a very large number of general and solar-related IDL procedures accessible via FTP . Download instructions are available at the Solarsoft Installation Guide. . Dominic Zarro has written IDL code using IDL Map Software for Analyzing Solar Images , and an introduction to Programming with IDL Objects: Why and how to do it". Many additional routines are available from the UCSD (University of California) Solar & Heliospheric Physics group.
Solar Stellar Spectrograph (SSS) Software
The SSS is a project dedicated to long-term observations of the Sun and Sun-like stars. The well-documented object-oriented software reduction code carries out the steps ( e.g. flat-fielding, scattered light removal, spectrum extraction) and includes classes available for general use.
SpecPro An IDL Program for Viewing and Analyzing Astronomical Spectra
SpecPro is an interactive program written by D. Masters and P. Capak for viewing and analyzing spectra, particulary in the context of modern imaging surveys. In addition to displaying the 1D and 2D spectrum, SpecPro can simultaneously display available stamp images as well as the spectral energy distribution of a source. Version 3.0 was released in February 2012.
SpexTool: Infrared Cross-dispersed Spectrograph Software
This page contains SpexTool (V3.4 October 2006), an IDL-based spectral extraction package written by Vacca, Cushing & Rayner (Institute for Astronomy, Hawaii) for the Spex instrument, a 0.8 - 5.5 micron cross-dispersed spectrograph on the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. Also on this page is a package for removing telluric lines from near-infrared spectra. It was designed for the SpeX instrument but can be used on other near-infrared spectrographs.
Stellar Locus Regresion
FW High (Harvard/CFA) and co-workers make available an IDL package to directly adjust instrumental broadband optical colors of stars to bring them into accord with a universal stellar color-color locus. Version 1.1 was released in April 2009.
STOOLS ( IDL Tools for Spectroscopic Analysis)
Carlos Allende Prieto (U. of Texas) makes available some of his IDL software, including a reader for IRAF formatted echelle spectra, and cross-correlating spectra to determine radial velocities.
TA-DA ( A Tool for Astrophysical Data Analysis)
TA-DA is an IDL save file for the comparison of stellar photometric with theoretical models, and for the derivation of stellar parameters from multi-band photometry. Version 0.99 was release in October 2012.
TAME ( Tools for Automatic Measurement of Equivalent Width )
TAME is an IDL save file for the measurement of Equivalent Widths (EWs) in a high-resolution spectrum. It was written by Wonseok Kang and Sang-Gak Lee (Seoul National University). Version 1.1 was last modified in January 2013.
TARA ( Tools for ACIS Real-time Analysis)
TARA is an IDL widget which was originally developed at Penn State University for for the pre-launch calibration of the AXAF CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), now aboard the Chandra X-ray observatory, but which is generally useful for studying event data. Additional software is available to correct for the charge-transfer inefficiency (CTI) in the in-flight ACIS detectors. The HETG Analysis Kit (HAK) software is available for analyzing data from the High-Energy Transmission Grating (HETG) aboard Chandra. Joel Kastner and his students at the Rochester Institute of Technolgy make available IDL software for Subpixel Event Repositioning for the ACIS detectors.
Time Utilities
Jason Eastman (OSU) and colleagues make available well-documented IDL code for precision conversion to and from barycentric Julian date.
Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) software
The UIT image display software was a precursor to the IDL Astronomy Library, but has some additional routines for image display and astrometry. Last updated in 1995 so it is pretty obsolete.
Ultraviolet Spectral Analysis Software
Some of the ultraviolet spectral analysis software (e.g. multiple Gaussian fits) might be useful for analysis on other types of spectral data. The IUE (International Ultraviolet Explorer) Data Analysis Center is probably the oldest IDL-based astronomical data analysis package (last updated June 1999). The FUSE (Far Ultraviolet Spectrographic Explorer) IDL software includes some excellent general useful tools for the analysis of 1-d spectra (last updated February 2007). Stephen McCandliss (Johns Hopkins U.) has written H2TOOLS for the analysis of molecular hydrogen spectra. The Galex Explorer (GALEX) mission includes grisms to obtain ultraviolet spectra, and Todd Small (Cal Tech) has developed GALEXSpec, an IDL widget for assessing the spectra in a GALEX field. Charles Danforth (U. of Colorado) makes available IDL tools for analyzing data from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) (last updated June 2014).
ULySS (University of Lyon Spectroscopic analysis Software)
ULySS is a well-documented package developed at the Observatoire de Lyon to fit a spectrum with a linear combination of non-linear components convolved with a line-of-sight velocity distribution (LOSVD) and multiplied by a polynomial continuum. It is used to study stellar populations of galaxies and star clusters and atmospheric parameters of stars. Version 1.2 was released in November 2012.
Universal Transit Modeler (UTM) software
Hans-Jörg Deeg (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) has developed the UTM software, which is light-curve simulator for transiting or eclipsing configurations. He also makes available the vaphot software, a differential photometry package for IRAF and IDL.
Fred Walter's IDL Software
This site at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stonybrook includes the ICUR package developed by Fred Walter & Jim Neff for the analysis of 1-d astronomical spectra, and a package for the photometric reduction of Kitt Peak near-infrared images.
Weighted Voronoi Tesselations (WVT)
Steven Diehl and Tom Statler (Ohio U.) have written IDL software to compute weighted Voronoi Tesselations, useful for binning sparse X-ray data. V2.0 was released in December 2005.
ZODIPIC Software
The ZODIPIC package is an IDL program written by Marc Kuchner (NASA/Goddard) for synthesizing images of exozodiacal clouds. It also has enough tweakable parameters to serve as a general-purpose modeling tool for optically-thin disks. Zodipic Version 2.1 includes dust with real optical constants, and user-specified dust maps. Christopher Stark (Goddard Space Flight Center) distributes DUSTMAP, an IDL and C package to view debris disks from any vantage point -- even from within! Version 3.1.1 was released in June 2014.
IDL Astronomy Library Home Page

General Astronomy Sites

FITS Support Office
The main source for information about the Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) data format, which is widely used in astronomy.
Systems of Time
This site at the US Naval Observatory explains the time systems (e.g. Julian date, UTC) used in astronomy.

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Last Updated: 15-Oct-2015