Version 4.0 of the Montage Image Mosaic Engine Released: Data Cubes and more.

Version 4.0 is a major upgrade of Montage, released with a BSD 3-clause license. The distribution is available from Git Hub at and from the Montage web page at

The release supports aggregation of of data stored as data cubes (actually, multidimensional data sets with four dimensions) into mosaics, and a new command-line visualization tool. Details are a follows:

    • Five new modules dedicated to aggregating multidimensional input images in FITS format into mosaics of data cubes, and to supporting management and analysis of these cubes and their associated metadata. These modules are:
      1. mTranspose: Re-orders axes of multi-dimensional data sets.
      2. mProjectCube: Reprojects a single cube to the scale and coordinate system specified by the user; it supports all projections in the World Coordinate System (WCS) library; and it supports the “Drizzle” algorithm.
      3. mSubCube: Creates a subimage (“cutout”) of a cube.
      4. mShrinkCube: Reduces the size of a FITS cube according an input scaling factor.
      5. mAddCube: Co-adds the reprojected cubes to form the output mosaic.

All but mTranspose are analogs of modules for creating two dimensional mosaics.

    • Backwards-compatible updates to existing modules to support processing of data cubes.
    • A new module, mViewer, supports rendering from the command line of multi-dimensional images as well as large-scale images. It creates JPEG and PNG output files. The JPEG files contain AVM tags, which support incorporation of the images into the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) and other E/PO tools.
    • A beta version of a Python wrapper around mViewer to support incorporation into Python processing environments.
    • A tutorial on transposing the axes of data cubes using mTranspose
    • A tutorial on creating a mosaic from data cubes.

As with earlier releases, the new release is written in ANSI-compliant C and intended for use on all common Unix-based platforms. It was tested formally on RedHat Enterprise Linux Server 5.9 and on Mac OS X 10.9.x, with the gnu cc complier version 4.1, and the primary test data sets were public data cubes measured with the OSIRIS integral field spectrograph at the Keck Observatory and cubes released by the Galactic Arecibo L-band Feed Array HI (GALFA-HI) Survey.

Sample image

This image represents an average of the central 10 velocity planes of a mosaic of five data cubes released as part of the Galactic Arecibo L-band Feed Array HI (GALFA-HI) survey (Peek et al., 2011, Ap J Suppl, 194, 20; DOI 10.1088/0067-0049/194/2/20; ADS Bibcode 2011ApJS..194…20P). GALFA is a high-resolution (~4′), large-area (13,000 deg2), high spectral resolution (0.18 km s-1), and wide band (-700 km s -1 < v LSR < +700 km s-1) survey of the Galactic interstellar medium in the 21 cm line hyperfine transition of neutral hydrogen conducted at Arecibo Observatory. See the Data Cube Mosaics tutorial on how to compute a data cube mosaic such as this.


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Montage used in the generation of the STARBIRDS Archive

McQuinn, Mitchell and Skillman (2015) recently published “The Panchromatic STARBurst IRregular Dwarf Survey (STARBIRDS): Observations and Data Archive.” They combined new and archival multi-wavelength observations for 20 nearby starburst and post-starburst dwarf galaxies to create a new archive of calibrated, homogeneously reduced images: the  “STARBurst IRregular Dwarf Survey” archive. They aggregated   images from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer Telescope (GALEX), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and the Spitzer Space Telescope (Spitzer) Multiband Imaging Photometer instrument. The data sets include flux calibrated, background subtracted images, al co-registered to the same world coordinate system.

The team used the Montage module mJPEG to create grayscale preview JPEG files of all the FITS files – you can see some examples below.  The JPEGs were made using a Gaussian stretch of the full range of the original image up to a maximum flux level of 99.999% of all pixel values. One of the benefits of the Montage toolkit design is that components such as mJPEG can be included in a script or program for bulk creation of images.

Visit the archive at

Here are some sample images:




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Montage Supports the Kepler Follow-Up Observation Program.

The Kepler Community Follow-up Program, known also as the Kepler Follow-up Observation Program and KFOP, is a program instituted to conduct follow-up observations on Kepler Objects of Interest (KOI), or signals observed by the Kepler spacecraft that may indicate the presence of a planet transiting its host star. Because  the transit method of finding planets tends to produce a large number of false positives, KFOP is intended to rule out false positives amongst the KOIs and confirm more discoveries of exoplanets.

The NASA Exoplanet Archive, in support of the KFOP, has utilized Montage to generate a finding chart and nearby source catalog for all of the Kepler planetary candidate systems.  The UKIRT Observatory had performed a J-band survey of the Kepler Field and generated a source detection catalog; there are 1100+ individual images with 16 million sources in the survey.  Montage was used to index the images and the catalog (using an R-tree indexing scheme) to enable rapid determination of the best image for each Kepler target and to create a list of sources within 30″ of the Kepler targets.  Montage was then used to orient all of the best images and generate 1 arcmin cutout images with jpeg previews, overlayed with an equatorial coordinate grid: an example is shown below.

The modular design of Montage enabled the processing to be run within IDL and further analyzed, all within a scripted environment.  The usefulness of the UKIRT to the Kepler Project and the Follow-Up program was greatly enhanced by the UKIRT products, and those products were easily generated and made available to the team through Montage.



This blogpost was based on material provided to me by Dr. David Ciardi.

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The AKARI Far-Infrared All-Sky Survey Maps

Because Montage is designed is a toolkit of components written in ANSI-C,  projects may integrate the tools into their pipelines and processing environments to create new data products and perform science analysis.

The Japanese AKARI mission has used Montage to support the creation of far-infrared, all-sky (>99% coverage) survey maps at 65 μm, 90 μm, 140 μm, and 160 μm ,with spatial resolutions ranging from 1 to 1.5 arcmin.  The production of these maps in described in Doi et al. (2015).  These maps represent the first public release of the all-sky data. According to the authors, the AKARI survey ” reveals the large-scale distribution of ISM with the great detail… The AKARI FIR images are a new powerful resource from which to investigate the detailed nature of ISM from small scales to the full sky.”

Full sky AKARI maps at 65 μm, 90 μm, 140 μm, and 160 μm. Montage was used to support the creation of these maps.

Full sky AKARI maps at 65 μm, 90 μm, 140 μm, and 160 μm. Montage was used to support the creation of these maps.


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Montage Mosaics The Pillars Of Creation!

The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula (M16) remain one of the iconic images of the Hubble Space Telescope. Three pillars rise from a molecular cloud into an enormous HII region, powered by the massive young cluster NGC 6611. Such pillars are common in regions of massive star formation, where they form as a result of ionization and stellar winds.

In a paper that will shortly be published in MNRAS,  entitled “The Pillars of Creation revisited with MUSE: gas kinematics and high-mass stellar feedback traced by optical spectroscopy,” McLeod et al (2015)  analyze of new data acquired with the Multi Unit Spectroscopy Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the VLT.  They used Montage to create integrated line maps of the single pointings obtained at the telescope. The figure below shows an example of these maps:2015-04-30_15-35-49

The authors confirmed  the pillar tips are being ionized and photo-evaporated by the massive members of NGC 6611.  They found a new  bipolar outflow at the tip of the middle pillar and proposed that an embedded protostar is driving it. With the physical parameters and ionic abundances derived from the spectroscopic study, they estimated a mass loss rate due to photo-evaporation of 70 M⊙/Myr, which implies that these structures can expect to have a lifetime of 3 Myr.

Posted in astronomy, astronomy images, Astronomy software, Image mosaic, Image processing, Images, Integral Field Spectrographs, software, star formation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Relicensing the Montage Mosaic Engine to a BSD 3-Clause License.

t the AAS meeting in January, I gave a presentation at a Special Session on Software Licenses about how and why we relicensed Montage from a proprietary license to a more permissive BSD 3-clause.  You can see the short presentation below, and read the full text of the session here.

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The Kid Is Back: The Next Generation of the Montage Image Mosaic Engine

I am delighted to say that we have received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to deliver the next generation of the Montage Image Mosaic Engine. This new effort responds to the dramatic evolution in the computational landscape astronomy in the past few years.  We will deliver, over the next two years:

  • Support for data cubes.
  • Support for two sky partitioning schemes, the Hierarchical Equal Area isoLatitude Pixelization (HEALPix), standard in cosmic background experiments; and the Tessellated Octahedral Adaptive Subdivision Transform (TOAST), used in immersive platforms such as the World Wide Telescope.
  • A set of turnkey tools and associated tutorial  that will enable astronomers who are not expert in distributed platforms and technologies to launch and manage processing at scale.
  • A library that will allow Montage to be run directly from languages such as Python.

Montage has recently been relicensed, and is now available under a BSD 3-clause license. We will be making the code available on GitHub.  We will also overhaul the web page and revive the Montage blog (here!).

The project staff are: Bruce Berriman (PI), John Good (Architect), Marcy Harbut (Documentation), Tom Robitaille and Ewa Deelman (collaborators). We are guided by a Users’ Panel consisting of Adam Ginsburg, August Muench and Suzanne Jacoby.

Just to whet your appetite, we show  a short video that displays the structure of a molecular disk wind in HD 163296, measured by ALMA (PI: M. Rawlings). The video shows a re-projection by Montage of a data cube of the star that covers multiple velocities relative to the center of the CO J=3-2 line.

And here is a poster that describes some of the features we will be delivering, presented at the 2015 NSF SI2 PI Workshop, February 15 and 16 2015 in Arlington, VA.


PDF version:




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