Typical X-ray spectra have low counts and should be modeled using the Poisson distribution. However, χ2 statistic is often applied as an alternative and the data are assumed to follow the Gaussian distribution. A variety of weights to the statistic or a binning of the data is performed to overcome the low counts issues. However, such modifications introduce biases or/and a loss of information. Standard modeling packages such as XSPEC and Sherpa provide the Poisson likelihood and allow computation of rudimentary MCMC chains, but so far do not allow for setting a full Bayesian model. We have implemented a sophisticated Bayesian MCMC-based algorithm to carry out spectral fitting of low counts sources in the Sherpa environment. The code is a Python extension to Sherpa and allows to fit a predefined Sherpa model to high-energy X-ray spectral data and other generic data. We present the algorithm and discuss several issues related to the implementation, including flexible definition of priors and allowing for variations in the calibration information.
Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XX
- Pub Date:
- July 2011