Image Subtraction in Fourier Space Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Image subtraction is essential for transient detection in time-domain astronomy. The point-spread function (PSF), photometric scaling, and sky background generally vary with time and across the field of view for imaging data taken with ground-based optical telescopes. Image subtraction algorithms need to match these variations for the detection of flux variability. An algorithm that can be fully parallelized is highly desirable for future time-domain surveys. Here we introduce the saccadic fast Fourier transform (SFFT) algorithm we developed for image differencing. SFFT uses a -function basis for kernel decomposition, and the image subtraction is performed in Fourier space. This brings about a remarkable improvement in computational performance of about an order of magnitude compared to other published image subtraction codes. SFFT can accommodate the spatial variations in wide-field imaging data, including PSF, photometric scaling, and sky background. However, the flexibility of the -function basis may also make it more prone to overfitting. The algorithm has been tested extensively on real astronomical data taken by a variety of telescopes. Moreover, the SFFT code allows for the spatial variations of the PSF and sky background to be fitted by spline functions.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Hu, L., Wang, L., Chen, X., & Yang, J.

complete list of authors

  • Hu, Lei||Wang, Lifan||Chen, Xingzhuo||Yang, Jiawen

publication date

  • September 2022