vpguessinformation page. Please note that it is updated from time to time.
vpguessis free software but please see this.
vpguessis a program to facilitate the fitting of multiple Voigt profiles to spectroscopic data. It is a graphical interface to VPFIT by R.F. Carswell, J.K. Webb and others. Although VPFIT has been outfitted with some graphics capabilities of its own I hope that
vpguessmay be a useful alternative. It was originally meant to simplify the process of setting up first guesses for a subsequent fit with VPFIT. However, it has since been developed into a full interface to VPFIT. It may also be used independently of VPFIT for displaying data, playing around with data and models, "chi-by-eye" fits, displaying the result of a proper fit, pretty plots, etc.
vpguessis written in C. The graphics are based on PGPLOT by T. Pearson.
vpguessfrom this link: http://www.eso.org/~jliske/pub/vpguess-1.8.tar.gz. The latest version is 1.8 and its release date is 2015-05-12. See the README file that comes with the distribution for a list of changes from earlier versions. Please send me an email to let me know that you are using
vpguess uses the cpgplot library for all graphics. Its
FORTRAN base, PGPLOT, is pretty much standard but if you don't have
it, you can get it here. cpgplot is the
C extension of PGPLOT. Although it is included in the standard PGPLOT
distribution, it is for some reason often not installed. If PGPLOT is
installed on your computer, but cpgplot is not, then you need to get
your system administrator to type make cpg in the PGPLOT
directory (often /usr/local/pgplot). This will only work if the PGPLOT
source or distribution directory has not been deleted. If the make was
successful then the files libcpgplot.a (library) and cpgplot.h (header
file) or links to them need to be put in the appropriate system
directories so that your compiler can find them. These would be
something like /usr/lib for the library and /usr/include for the
It is also recommended to install this
modification of the
PGPLOT library to enable additional functionality for navigating
the on-screen plots produced by
the patch will allow you to use your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in
and out, drag the plot, and edit absorption lines more conveniently.
This makes life quite a bit easier. It is, however, perfectly possible
to install and use
vpguess without this patch.
Once these libraries are installed you should take a look at the
Makefile in the src/ directory and edit it to suit your OS. In
particular, if you have installed the PGPLOT patch mentioned above,
then you should remove the -DNO_PGPATCH flag from CFLAGS to enable the
additional functionality provided by the patch. Once you are happy
with your Makefile you can type make in the src/
directory. This will produce the executable
should be put in your bin directory (or somewhere else in your
PATH). You can then type make clean to clean up.
vpguess can be used by itself it is primarily
meant to help facilitate the interaction with VPFIT. If you plan to
vpguess in conjunction with VPFIT
(see below) then VPFIT must be
installed on your system.
vpguess currently works with
VPFIT version 10.2. There is no guarantee that it will still work with
earlier VPFIT versions. You can get the VPFIT code and some
If you plan to call VPFIT from within
vpguess you will
have to let
vpguess know where your version of VPFIT
lives and what it is called. This is done by setting the environment
variable VPG_VPFIT to the full path and name (something like
/home/jliske/bin/vpfit) of the VPFIT executable that you wish to use
vpguess. If you don't have VPFIT then don't set the
environment variable. In this case the command to fit ('F')
will just fail harmlessly (but not quietly).
You can also set the variable VPG_ATOM_DATA to point to the atomic data file. If this is set you
don't need the file atom.dat in your working directory. VPFIT uses its
own environment variable (ATOMDIR) for the same purpose. If
VPG_ATOM_DATA is not defined then
vpguess will attempt
use ATOMDIR instead.
vpguessneeds to read in the spectral data that you want to fit. For convenience the data are usually split into several files, each covering a different spectral region of interest. These are referred to as "data chunks". On startup,
vpguesswill read all the data chunks given on the command line or those specified in a save file.
From version 1.2
vpguess can read the spectral data and
"associated arrays" either from ASCII files or from FITS files. In
general, the "associated arrays" are the error array, the continuum
and the sky (or background). However, the last is never used in
vpguess and is included below only for completeness.
In addition to the spectral data itself,
needs corresponding error and continuum arrays. All error arrays are
assumed to be 1 sigma unless variance is indicated (see below). Note
that reasonable error estimates are important for meaningful fitting.
vpguess cannot find an associated error array
(see below) then it will try to provide reasonable values by setting
the error array to sqrt(data * (N_S^2 - SKY^2) + SKY^2), where N_S and
SKY are parameters defined in spec.h. Once
vpguess is up
and running you can also use 'y' to create a new error
array or to improve an existing one. If no continuum is found it is
set to 1, i.e. the spectrum is assumed to be normalised.
Let's assume your data file is called foo. First,
will look for a header file called foo.hdr. If the data file is called
foo.txt (or .dat or whatever) then
vpguess will check for
foo.hdr, foo.hdr.txt and foo.txt.hdr. If found, the header file is
assumed to be an ASCII file in FITS header style, i.e. each line is
assumed to consist of a keyword name (maximum of 8 letters), followed
by a '=', followed by a keyword value.
If a header file is present, then
vpguess will search it
for wavelength information (just as in the case of FITS data files,
see below). So far, only linear and log-linear coordinate systems are
supported. (The latter is used by the SDSS.) IRAF's MULTISPEC format
is not (yet) supported. The wavelength info is simply derived from the
header keywords CTYPE1, CRPIX1, CRVAL1 and CD1_1 or CDELT1. If the
wavelength info is found in the header file then the data file does
not need to contain a wavelength array.
If no header file is found or if it contains none of the keywords that define the wavelength scale, then it is assumed that the first column of the data file lists the wavelengths.
If a header file is present, then
vpguess will also use
it to try to figure out which of the columns in the data file contain
the spectrum and associated arrays. The keyword names identifying the
columns can be either BANDIDn, ROWn or ARRAYn, where n is a number
between 1 and the number of columns in the data file. The values of
these keywords should contain the words (case insensitive):
If this fails for the spectrum, i.e. if no header file is found or if it contains no identifier for the spectrum, then the spectrum is assumed to be stored in either the first or second column of the data file, depending on whether the wavelength information is specified in the header or not (see above).
If the above fails for one of the associated arrays
vpguess attempts to use the appropriate default column
defined in spec.h (taking into account the possible presence of a
If this also fails, i.e. if the specified column doesn't exist in the
data file, then the associated array is sought in a separate ASCII
file. For example, if the continuum cannot be identified/found and if
the data file is called foo, then
vpguess will look for a
file foo.cont. If the data file is called foo.txt (or .dat or
vpguess will check for foo.cont,
foo.cont.txt and foo.txt.cont. Similarly, if the error array cannot be
identified in foo, then
vpguess will try to find an error
array in foo.sig, foo.err, foo.var and all the various combinations
involving the data file's extension (if present). If the sky is
missing, then the file extensions used for trying to find a sky (or
background) array are .sky or .bkg.
The format of the .sig/.cont/.sky files is
|[Wavelength (A)]||Sigma / Continuum / Sky|
To summarise: if you do not wish to use a header (.hdr) file then your ASCII data file should look like this:
vpguesscan handle 1, 2 and 3-dimensional multi-extension spectral FITS files (which may be gzipped). In all cases, the first axis is assumed to be the spectral axis. If present, the second axis may either contain associated arrays (error, continuum, sky) or multiple spectra. If the third axis is present it is assumed to contain the associated arrays, while the second axis is assumed to contain multiple spectra. If the third axis is present, its length must be < 6.
In this case it is obvious where to get the spectrum. The associated arrays (error, continuum, sky) are first sought in other FITS extensions of the same FITS file.
vpguess looks for the
following extension names:
If that fails
vpguess looks for separate FITS files. If
the data file is called foo.fit, then
vpguess checks for
foo.sig.fit, foo.err.fit, foo.var.fit, foo.cont.fit, foo.sky.fit,
As for ASCII files,
vpguess never checks that the
wavelength information in the various FITS extensions or files is the
vpguess will first attempt to determine the positions of
the spectrum and associated arrays along the second axis from FITS
header keywords. The keyword names can be either BANDIDn, ROWn or
ARRAYn, where n goes from 1 - length of second axis. The values of
these keywords should contain either of the words SPECTRUM or SPEC for
the data or the the extension names listed above for the associated
arrays (all case insensitive). If this fails for the spectrum, i.e. if
the identifying keywords (BANDIDn, etc.) do not exist in the header or
if their values don't contain the 'magic' words, then
reads the spectrum from the first row – unless the length of the
second axis is > 9. In this case
vpguess assumes that the
file contains multiple spectra (as opposed to a single spectrum +
associated arrays) and the user is queried for the position of the
spectrum along the second axis.
If the identification process fails for the associated arrays (or if
the length of the second axis is > 9),
through the same process as in the 1D case (assuming that the separate
FITS extensions or files are also 2D and using the same position along
the second axis as for the spectrum). If this also fails,
vpguess uses the default positions defined in spec.h (row
2 = error array, row 3 = continuum).
First the user is queried for a position along the second axis. Then
vpguess tries to determine the positions of the spectrum
and the associated arrays along the third axis using FITS header
keywords as above. If that fails the first position is used for the
spectrum while the default positions defined in spec.h are used for
the associated arrays (standard IRAF settings: band 4 = error array,
band 5 = continuum).
So far, only linear and log-linear coordinate systems are supported. (The latter is used by the SDSS.) IRAF's MULTISPEC format is not (yet) supported. The wavelength info is simply derived from the FITS header keywords CTYPE1, CRPIX1, CRVAL1 and CD1_1 or CDELT1.
vpguessand VPFIT, contains the atomic data for the various transitions of various ions that you are likely to encounter in QSO absorption spectra. Bob Carswell (the maintainer of VPFIT) does a good job of keeping this file up to date.
You need to have a copy of this file, or a link to it, in your current
directory in order to be able to run
vpguess. Alternatively, you can set one of the environment variables VPG_ATOM_DATA
or ATOMDIR (or both) to point to it.
vpguesswill then ask you to supply the FWHM of the instrumental line spread function (including units, either km/s or Angstrom). If you already have a save file (= fort.13 in VPFIT-speak) from a previous session or from use with VPFIT you can use the -f command line switch: vpguess -f save_file. You can also call
vpguesswithout any arguments. In this case
vpguesswill prompt you for a save file. Finally, if a setup file (called vpguessrc) is found in the current working directory you will be asked whether you want to use it.
vpguess is up and running you interact with it via
single key strokes. Type '?' to get a list of all the
available commands. Type all commands in the graphics window, not the
terminal from which you started
vpguess. The only
exception is when you are in command line mode or when
vpguess prompts you for input in the terminal. Here is a
screen shot of what
vpguess looks like in its simplest
and here is a more complicated (and bigger)
example. If the
vpguess window is too large or too small
for your screen, go back to the vpguess/src distribution directory and
change the definitions of WW and/or WH (and/or LEWW) in the file
vpguess.h to something more suitable for your screen. You then have to
vpguess by typing make.
vpguessis up and running you can type '?' (in the graphics window) to get help. This works in pretty much every mode or window and gives a list of all the currently available commands. The short descriptions of each command are meant to be helpful but I realise that it won't be entirely obvious to everyone what each command does. I guess I need to write a help page with detailed descriptions. Until then you'll just have to try things out yourselves... Also have a look here. Feel free to email me if you're stuck because something is just too obscure.
vpguessis very useful by itself (at least I think so) it is primarily meant to help facilitate the interaction with VPFIT. For more or less straightforward Voigt profile fitting you won't have to know anything about the intricacies of VPFIT anymore:
vpguesstakes that off your hands. However, there are two caveats: 1. VPFIT has a number of capabilities that cannot be accessed via
vpguessat the moment. This may change in the future. 2. The VPFIT code is not part of the
vpguessdistribution. That's because
vpguessdoes not incorporate VPFIT as some sort of subroutine. Rather, VPFIT is accessed simply via a system call. As pointed out above, this means that you need to have a working copy of VPFIT installed on your system, if you want to be able to use the 'F'it command in
Note that although VPFIT only accepts ASCII files in a particular
multicolumn format you can still make use of the various formats and
mechanisms for ASCII file input described above if you interact with VPFIT through
As explained above already you
should set the environment variable VPG_VPFIT to let
vpguess know where VPFIT lives on your machine. If it is
not set then
vpguess will alternatively look for
$HOME/bin/vpfit and ./vpfit. However, I recommend the use of
VPG_VPFIT. If nothing else it allows you to have several versions of
VPFIT without any danger of confusion. For example, if you have
modified VPFIT in some way which makes it incompatible with
vpguess, but you would still like to be able to use
standard VPFIT through
vpguess, then you would need to
have two versions of VPFIT: your own version (probably called "vpfit")
and one standard version compiled for use with ASCII files as
explained above (called, e.g.,
vpg_vpfit). Simply point
vpguess at vpg_vpfit by setting
the VPG_VPFIT environment variable appropriately (full path name!) and
there will never be any confusion.
Another requirement for
vpguess to play nicely with VPFIT
is to uncomment the parameter nopchan in VPFIT's setup parameter file
vp_setup.dat, and to set it to 2 (see section 7 of the VPFIT
For those of you who know anything about VPFIT and wonder about the
details of how
vpguess interacts with it: when you hit
the 'F' key
vpguess first writes out a fort.13
(a "save file" in
vpguess lingo). It then writes all the
data chunks to temporary files (in the multicolumn format expected by
VPFIT) to ensure that VPFIT will work on the same data (= spectra,
error arrays and continua) that you see on the screen. Thus if you
have made any modifications to the data after it was read in
(e.g. with the 'n' key or other features that may be added
in future) these will be passed on to VPFIT. This procedure also
allows the use of .sig and .cont files which cannot be read in by
VPFIT. Using a system call
vpguess then fires up VPFIT in
"file mode", giving it appropriate answers where they are
expected. (If you ever want to change the answers supplied to VPFIT
you need to edit the file vpgvpfitif.c and recompile
vpguess.) Finally, when the fit is done
vpguess reads in the results for the fitted parameters
and displays the corresponding model spectrum.
VPFIT produces various outputs. First there is the screen output.
Although this rather voluminous output can be quite annoying sometimes
vpguess does not just pipe it to /dev/null but simply
displays it in the terminal from which
called. I am told that some people are actually interested in the fit
statistics, parameter errors and actual parameter values. Also, it may
be useful to check that no error occurred during the execution of
VPFIT. (In addition I guess it wouldn't be right to suppress VPFIT's
copyright notice...) Secondly, VPFIT produces various files: fort.18
and f26.xxxxxxx, where the x's denote a random alphanumerical
sequence. Note that fort.18 is only produced if nopchan=2 in VPFIT's
vp_setup.dat. It is the fort.18 file that
the fit result from.
If you like the idea of using
vpguess to set up first
guesses but would rather invoke VPFIT independently of
vpguess (e.g. because you want to use some feature of
VPFIT not currently supported by
vpguess) then you can do
so. Simply write out the results of your "guess work" to a save file
(hit the 's' key). The resulting file is in the style of a
VPFIT fort.13 and can therefore be used to fire up VPFIT. This
procedure allows you to manually edit your guess work or add things
which are currently not (fully) supported by
VPFIT comes with its own atom.dat file. It is identical to the one
included in the
vpguess distribution (at least at the
time of the current release). Read about it here.
VPFIT uses a Voigt profile generation routine that is less accurate
(but faster) than that used by
vpguess (see below). So the model spectrum displayed by
vpguess is not exactly that fit by VPFIT.
To compute H(a,u)
vpguess uses a Taylor expansion in
H(a,u) = sumi=0 ai Hi(u)
going to fourth order. High-density, high-accuracy lookup tables are used for the non-analytical functions H1(u) and H3(u) and an asymptotic approximation is used for u > 20. (Note: a given absorption line's contribution to the optical depth, tau, is only included for those parts of the spectrum where the line's tau is > 10-7.) In those parts of the (a,u) parameter space probed by QSO absorption lines the above is more accurate than the method used by VPFIT by at least 2 orders of magnitude and is comparable to or better than the popular algorithm advanced by Humlicek (see Murphy's thesis for a direct comparison).
vpguess. You can use the '|' command for cropping. You may want to save ('Ctrl-s') the cropped spectra afterwards.
vpguessfor a file name either to write something to or to read something from, and if you prepend your answer with '!', then the rest of the answer will be interpreted as a system command. For example, if you answer '!ls' then
vpguesswill show you the contents of the current directory before repeating its query for the file name. Note that this implies that you cannot access files whose names begin with '!'. You can use the up and down arrow keys to access previous answers (history function) and the tab key for filename completion, just as in a shell.
vpguess. The format for the ion is a 2 letter code for the element followed directly (i.e. without a separating whitespace) by a 4 letter code for the ionization. Trailing white-spaces for the ionization may be omitted, but not for the element. Thus in order to get neutral hydrogen the correct sequence of key strokes is 'H' - 'space' - 'I' - 'return', where three trailing white-spaces have been omitted. To get MgII the sequence would be 'M' - 'g' - 'I' - 'I' - 'return'. A '?' at this prompt will produce a list of all the ions in your atom.dat file which you can use to check the code for the ion you want. Note that this facility can also be used to figure out which atom.dat you are using in case there are any uncertainties or confusion.
vpguesswill not allow you to release the redshift of a correction by the use of the 'Z' key. Thus you have to use the override option mentioned above if you want to change the initial redshift of a correction, or else delete the correction and create a new one at the correct position instead.
b^2 = v_turb^2 + f * T / m,
where m is the element's atomic number and f = 2 * k / u / 10^-6 = 0.0166 (k = Boltzmann's constant, u = atomic mass unit). If during the tying you specified a non-zero value for v_turb, or if you specified a zero value for both v_turb and the temperature, then we have
v_turb = whatever you specified
T = max (0.0, (b(ref)^2 - v_turb^2) * m(ref) / f),
where the (ref) refers to the reference or primary line of the tie. If on the other hand you specified a zero value for v_turb and a non-zero value for the temperature then we have
T = whatever you specified
v_turb = max(0.0, b(ref)^2 - f * T / m(ref)).
Note that the above implies that when you specify a v_turb during the tying that is larger than b(ref), then b(ref) will be set to v_turb. Equivalently, if you specify v_turb = 0 and a temperature that corresponds to a thermal width larger than b(ref), then b(ref) is set to that thermal width.
I believe that all of the above is consistent with the way VPFIT handles the tying of b parameters.
vpguess. It allows you to copy several lines to several different ions, so that if you are copying n lines to m ions then n*m new lines will be created. You also have the option to tie the redshifts and/or b parameters of the corresponding original and copied lines. If the redshift or b parameter of any of the original lines are already part of a tie, then the corresponding new lines will be included in the existing tie (but only if the option to tie parameters is selected by the user). If the redshift or b parameter of any of the original lines are fixed then the corresponding new lines will not be tied to them, even if this is requested.
vpguesswith some other program's spectrum for the same model, and if you should discover slight differences despite using the same atomic data, then the reason is probably due to different implementations of the Voigt function. Another reason could be be slight differences in the values of the natural constants (electron mass and charge, etc).
vpguessuses the most accurate values for these constants that I could find (from Allen's Astrophysical Quantities, Fourth Edition) and they're listed in the header file const.h.
vpguessfor storing abundances at the moment. Tied column densities are simply set equal at the moment. See also the VPFIT documentation on this topic.
vpguessdeals with this problem by simply extrapolating the optical depth from beyond the Lyman limit across the affected region.
This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.