CCDData Class#

Getting Started#

Getting Data In#

Creating a CCDData object from any array-like data using astropy.nddata is convenient:

>>> import numpy as np
>>> from astropy.nddata import CCDData
>>> from import get_pkg_data_filename
>>> ccd = CCDData(np.arange(10), unit="adu")

Note that behind the scenes, this creates references to (not copies of) your data when possible, so modifying the data in ccd will modify the underlying data.

You are required to provide a unit for your data. The most frequently used units for these objects are likely to be adu, photon, and electron, which can be set either by providing the string name of the unit (as in the example above) or from unit objects:

>>> from astropy import units as u
>>> ccd_photon = CCDData([1, 2, 3], unit=u.photon)
>>> ccd_electron = CCDData([1, 2, 3], unit="electron")

If you prefer not to use the unit functionality, then use the special unit u.dimensionless_unscaled when you create your CCDData images:

>>> ccd_unitless = CCDData(np.zeros((10, 10)),
...                        unit=u.dimensionless_unscaled)

A CCDData object can also be initialized from a FITS filename or URL:

>>> ccd ='my_file.fits', unit="adu")  
>>> ccd ='tutorials/FITS-images/HorseHead.fits'), unit="adu", cache=True)  

If there is a unit in the FITS file (in the BUNIT keyword), that will be used, but explicitly providing a unit in read will override any unit in the FITS file.

There is no restriction at all on what the unit can be — any unit in astropy.units or another that you create yourself will work.

In addition, the user can specify the extension in a FITS file to use:

>>> ccd ='my_file.fits', hdu=1, unit="adu")  

If hdu is not specified, it will assume the data is in the primary extension. If there is no data in the primary extension, the first extension with image data will be used.


When initializing from a FITS file, the header property is initialized using the header of the FITS file. Metadata is optional, and can be provided by any dictionary or dict-like object:

>>> ccd_simple = CCDData(np.arange(10), unit="adu")
>>> my_meta = {'observer': 'Edwin Hubble', 'exposure': 30.0}
>>> ccd_simple.header = my_meta  # or use ccd_simple.meta = my_meta

Whether the metadata is case-sensitive or not depends on how it is initialized. A FITS header, for example, is not case-sensitive, but a Python dictionary is.

Getting Data Out#

A CCDData object behaves like a numpy array (masked if the CCDData mask is set) in expressions, and the underlying data (ignoring any mask) is accessed through the data attribute:

>>> ccd_masked = CCDData([1, 2, 3], unit="adu", mask=[0, 0, 1])
>>> 2 * np.ones(3) * ccd_masked   # one return value will be masked
masked_array(data=[2.0, 4.0, --],
             mask=[False, False,  True],
>>> 2 * np.ones(3) *   # ignores the mask  
array([2., 4., 6.])

You can force conversion to a numpy array with:

>>> np.asarray(ccd_masked)
array([1, 2, 3])
>>>, mask=ccd_masked.mask)
masked_array(data=[1, 2, --],
             mask=[False, False,  True],

A method for converting a CCDData object to a FITS HDU list is also available. It converts the metadata to a FITS header:

>>> hdulist = ccd_masked.to_hdu()

You can also write directly to a FITS file:

>>> ccd_masked.write('my_image.fits')

Masks and Flags#

Although it is not required when a CCDData image is created, you can also specify a mask and/or flags.

A mask is a boolean array the same size as the data in which a value of True indicates that a particular pixel should be masked (i.e., not be included in arithmetic operations or aggregation).

Flags are one or more additional arrays (of any type) whose shape matches the shape of the data. One particularly useful type of flag is a bit planes; for more details about bit planes and the functions astropy provides for converting them to binary masks, see Utility Functions for Handling Bit Masks and Mask Arrays. For more details on setting flags, see NDData.


The wcs attribute of a CCDData object can be set two ways.

  • If the CCDData object is created from a FITS file that has WCS keywords in the header, the wcs attribute is set to a WCS object using the information in the FITS header.

  • The WCS can also be provided when the CCDData object is constructed with the wcs argument.

Either way, the wcs attribute is kept up to date if the CCDData image is trimmed.


The psf attributes of a CCDData object can be set two ways.

  • If the FITS file has an image HDU extension matching the appropriate name (defaulted to "PSFIMAGE"), the psf attribute is loaded from that image HDU.

  • The PSF can also be provided when the CCDData object is constructed with the psf argument.

The psf attribute should be a normalized image representing the PSF at the center of the CCDData, sized appropriately for the data; users are responsible for managing and interpreting it in context. For more on normalizing a PSF image, see Normalization.

The psf attribute is set to None in the output of an arithmetic operation, no matter the inputs. A warning message is emitted if either of the input images contain a non-None PSF; users are responsible for determining the appropriate thing to do in that context.


You can set the uncertainty directly, either by creating a StdDevUncertainty object first:

>>> rng = np.random.default_rng()
>>> data = rng.normal(size=(10, 10), loc=1.0, scale=0.1)
>>> ccd = CCDData(data, unit="electron")
>>> from astropy.nddata.nduncertainty import StdDevUncertainty
>>> uncertainty = 0.1 *  # can be any array whose shape matches the data
>>> my_uncertainty = StdDevUncertainty(uncertainty)
>>> ccd.uncertainty = my_uncertainty

Or by providing a ndarray with the same shape as the data:

>>> ccd.uncertainty = 0.1 *  
INFO: array provided for uncertainty; assuming it is a StdDevUncertainty. [...]

In this case, the uncertainty is assumed to be StdDevUncertainty.

Two other uncertainty classes are available for which error propagation is also supported: VarianceUncertainty and InverseVariance. Using one of these three uncertainties is required to enable error propagation in CCDData.

If you want access to the underlying uncertainty, use its .array attribute:

>>> ccd.uncertainty.array  

Arithmetic with Images#

Methods are provided to perform arithmetic operations with a CCDData image and a number, an astropy Quantity (a number with units), or another CCDData image.

Using these methods propagates errors correctly (if the errors are uncorrelated), takes care of any necessary unit conversions, and applies masks appropriately. Note that the metadata of the result is not set if the operation is between two CCDData objects.

>>> result = ccd.multiply(0.2 * u.adu)
>>> uncertainty_ratio = result.uncertainty.array[0, 0]/ccd.uncertainty.array[0, 0]
>>> round(uncertainty_ratio, 5)   
>>> result.unit
Unit("adu electron")


The affiliated package ccdproc provides functions for many common data reduction operations. Those functions try to construct a sensible header for the result and provide a mechanism for logging the action of the function in the header.

The arithmetic operators *, /, +, and - are not overridden.


If two images have different WCS values, the wcs on the first CCDData object will be used for the resultant object.