Forward Global Photometric Calibration of the Dark Energy Survey

D. L. Burke, E. S. Rykoff, S. Allam, J. Annis, K. Bechtol, G. M. Bernstein, A. Drlica-Wagner, D. A. Finley, R. A. Gruendl, D. J. James, S. Kent, R. Kessler, S. Kuhlmann, J. Lasker, T. S. Li, D. Scolnic, J. Smith, D. L. Tucker, W. Wester, B. YannyT. M.C. Abbott, F. B. Abdalla, A. Benoit-Lévy, E. Bertin, A. Carnero Rosell, M. Carrasco Kind, J. Carretero, C. E. Cunha, C. B. D'Andrea, L. N. Da Costa, S. Desai, H. T. Diehl, P. Doel, J. Estrada, J. Garcia-Bellido, D. Gruen, G. Gutierrez, K. Honscheid, K. Kuehn, N. Kuropatkin, M. A.G. Maia, M. March, J. L. Marshall, P. Melchior, F. Menanteau, R. Miquel, A. A. Plazas, M. Sako, E. Sanchez, V. Scarpine, R. Schindler, I. Sevilla-Noarbe, M. Smith, R. C. Smith, M. Soares-Santos, F. Sobreira, E. Suchyta, G. Tarle, A. R. Walker

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80 Scopus citations


Many scientific goals for the Dark Energy Survey (DES) require the calibration of optical/NIR broadband b = grizY photometry that is stable in time and uniform over the celestial sky to one percent or better. It is also necessary to limit to similar accuracy systematic uncertainty in the calibrated broadband magnitudes due to uncertainty in the spectrum of the source. Here we present a "Forward Global Calibration Method (FGCM)" for photometric calibration of the DES, and we present results of its application to the first three years of the survey (Y3A1). The FGCM combines data taken with auxiliary instrumentation at the observatory with data from the broadband survey imaging itself and models of the instrument and atmosphere to estimate the spatial and time dependences of the passbands of individual DES survey exposures. "Standard" passbands that are typical of the passbands encountered during the survey are chosen. The passband of any individual observation is combined with an estimate of the source spectral shape to yield a magnitude in the standard system. This "chromatic correction" to the standard system is necessary to achieve subpercent calibrations and in particular, to resolve ambiguity between the broadband brightness of a source and the shape of its SED. The FGCM achieves a reproducible and stable photometric calibration of standard magnitudes of stellar sources over the multiyear Y3A1 data sample with residual random calibration errors of per exposure. The accuracy of the calibration is uniform across the DES footprint to within . The systematic uncertainties of magnitudes in the standard system due to the spectra of sources are less than for main-sequence stars with .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number41
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Techniques: photometric
  • methods: observational


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