[AstroPy] Changing dimensionality of WCS

David Berry d.berry at jach.hawaii.edu
Tue Sep 24 17:03:08 EDT 2013

On 24 September 2013 21:14, Perry Greenfield <stsci.perry at gmail.com> wrote:
> Keep in mind that something like this will only work if the coordinates being sliced are separable. For example, if the WCS involve a rotation of x,y, it doesn't make much sense to extract the wcs for x only since it requires as input both coordinates.
> Given that, I'm not sure slicing is a good approach. This would need some careful thought as far as a user interface goes (sure, you can raise an exception when it doesn't work, but is there a simple way to see what coordinates are coupled?)

There are two parts to the problem:

1) picking the axes from the coordinate system. This requires a way of
identifying the axes to be picked, tacking into account the fact that
they may potentially have been permuted (i.e. you may have (dec,ra)
rather than (ra,dec), and they may be in some related system rather
than actual system you want (i.e. (ra,dec) rather than (glon,glat)).
Then some way is needed of extracting the picked axes into a new
coordinate system, and then some way of creating a Mapping that
describes how to get from the old frame to the new frame (pyast uses a
"PermMap" ("permutation mapping")).

2) Modifying any mappings that exist between the original coordinate
frame and any other related coordinate frames. For instance say you
have two Frames - one describing 3D (x,y,z) pixel coords, and another
describing (ra,dec,frequency) world coordinates with some suitable
mapping between them, and you then extract a (x,y) slice from the
pixel array. You pick the (x,y) axes from the 3D pixel Frame to create
a new 2D pixel frame as described in point 1) above, and likewise pick
the (ra,dec) axes from the 3D WCS Frame to create a 2D WCS Frame. You
then need to modify the original mapping between pixel and WCS so that
instead of being 3D in and 3D out, it is 2D in and 2D out. If the axes
are separable it's easy - you just need all Mapping classes to
implement a method such as astMapSplit
http://starlink.jach.hawaii.edu/docs/sun211.htx/node328.html. For
non-seperable axes, you need to utilize the fact that you know the z
value at which the slice was extracted, and create a mapping that will
"feed in" that value for the missing axis in the original mapping. We
use a PermMap for this - see


You use the fact that you know the Z value at which the slice was extracted

> Perry
> On Sep 24, 2013, at 4:06 PM, James Turner wrote:
>> I don't know the answer re. astropy.wcs but it would be good if
>> one could ultimately slice an nddata object and have the
>> dimensionality and WCS reduced automatically if applicable (a bit
>> like in IRAF but, hopefully, better) :-). It seems that an NDData
>> can already be sliced directly but "support for WCS and units is
>> not yet implemented". Maybe some more WCS manipulation routines
>> are needed first...
>> Cheers,
>> James.
>> On 24/09/13 15:49, David Berry wrote:
>>> On 24 September 2013 19:23, Adam Ginsburg <adam.ginsburg at colorado.edu> wrote:
>>>> When working with data cubes, I often need to extract WCS information
>>>> for 1 or 2 of the WCS dimensions.   The docs
>>>> (http://docs.astropy.org/en/latest/wcs/index.html) give decent
>>>> examples of how to generate a WCS from scratch, but I don't see any
>>>> obvious way to extract a lower-dimensional WCS from a WCS.  Does such
>>>> functionality exist?  If not, does it make sense to generate a WCS
>>>> from scratch and copy over just the relevant parameters?
>>> This is an example of the general problem - given two arbitrary
>>> coordinate systems, one with N axes and one with M axes, is there a
>>> transformation between them, and if so, what is it? It is addressed in
>>> pyast by the "convert" method. If you need ideas for an API see
>>> http://starlink.jach.hawaii.edu/docs/sun211.htx/node245.html
>>> Implementing this sort of feature in a general way is tricky but can
>>> be done. For simpler cases where you just want to pick a specified
>>> subset or superset of axes from a coordinate system, pyast uses
>>> "pickaxes". See
>>> http://starlink.jach.hawaii.edu/docs/sun211.htx/node348.html
>>> I know pyast is not astropy, but I point these out in case ideas are
>>> need for how to approach these issues.
>>> David
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