Handbook Structure

The STIS Data Handbook is organized in five chapters, which discuss the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: STIS Overview provides a brief overview of the instrument and its operational capabilities, and a summary of important changes in the state of the instrument and in the data archive. If you are not already familiar with the details of STIS, you should begin here.
  • Chapter 2: STIS Data Structure describes the contents of STIS data files, the meanings of selected header keywords, and the relationship of the data products to the original Phase II proposal. If you are not familiar with the filenames, header keywords, or contents of the data files from STIS, you should read this chapter next.
  • Chapter 3: STIS Calibration describes how the calibration pipeline processes your observation, how to determine if your data files need recalibration, and how to perform basic recalibration. If you are not familiar with the important characteristics of STIS data and the standard procedures for reducing them, or do not know how your data have been calibrated, you should read this chapter.
  • Chapter 4: STIS Error Sources describes the sources of uncertainty and limiting accuracies of STIS data, with new in-depth discussions of instrumental phenomena and the creation of reference files that characterize those phenomena. STIS observers should read this chapter to acquaint themselves with the limitations of the data that remain after pipeline calibration.
  • Chapter 5: STIS Data Analysis discusses software tools that can be applied to specific types of data and data formats, how to analyze target acquisitions and guide star tracking, and detailed instructions on how to work with imaging data, spectral images, extracted spectra, and TIME-TAG data. Many users will find this chapter useful when determining how they should reduce and analyze their data.

There are some important pieces of general information about HST data, the HST Archive, and the IRAF and STSDAS analysis software that are not specific to the STIS, and which are therefore not discussed here in the STIS Data Handbook. We refer the reader to the most recent version of the companion Introduction to the HST Data Handbooks for this information. Additional help with HST data is always available at STScI Help Desk at hsthelp.stsci.edu.

Readers are advised to consult the STIS web pages (http://www.stsci.edu/hst/instrumentation/stis) for the latest news and updates on STIS performance.