Making RGB images

While the APLpy show_rgb() can be used to display an RGB image with the same projection as a given FITS file, it is also possible to use the make_rgb_cube() and make_rgb_image() to generate RGB images from scratch, even for files with initially different projections/resolutions.

Reprojecting three images to the same projection

If you are starting from three images with different projections/resolutions, the first step is to reproject these to a common projection/resolution. The following code shows how this can be done using the make_rgb_cube() function:

aplpy.make_rgb_cube(['2mass_k.fits', '2mass_h.fits',
                     '2mass_j.fits'], '2mass_cube.fits')

This method makes use of Montage to reproject the images to a common projection. For more information on installing Montage, see here. The above example produces a FITS cube named 2mass_cube.fits which contains the three channels in the same projection. This can be used to then produce an RGB image (see next section)

Producing an RGB image from images in a common projection

The make_rgb_image() function can be used to produce an RGB image from either three FITS files in the exact same projection, or a FITS cube containing the three channels (such as that output by make_rgb_cube()). The following example illustrates how to do this:


In the above example, APLpy will automatically adjust the stretch of the different channels to try and produce a reasonable image, but it is of course possible to specify one or more of the lower/upper limits of the scale to use for each channel. For each lower/upper scale limit, this can be done in two ways. The first is to use the vmin_r/g/b or vmax_r/g/b argument which specifies the pixel value to use for the lower or upper end of the scale respectively. The alternative is to use the pmin_r/g/b or pmax_r/g/b arguments, which specify the percentile value to use instead of an absolute value. The two can of course be mixed, such as in the following example:

aplpy.make_rgb_image('2mass_cube.fits', '2mass_rgb.png',
                      vmin_r=0., pmax_g=90.)

Plotting the resulting RGB image

If PyAVM is installed (which is recommended but not required), then if you produce a JPEG or PNG image, you can plot it directly with:

f = aplpy.FITSFigure('2mass_rgb.png')

For more information, see AVM tagging.

On the other hand, if you are not able to use PyAVM, or need to use a format other than JPEG or PNG, then you need to instantiate the FITSFigure class with a FITS file with exactly the same dimensions and WCS as the RGB image. The make_rgb_cube() function will in fact produce a file with the same name as the main output, but including a _2d suffix, and this can be used to instantiate FITSFigure:

# Reproject the images to a common projection - this will also produce
# ``2mass_cube_2d.fits``
aplpy.make_rgb_cube(['2mass_k.fits', '2mass_h.fits',
                     '2mass_j.fits'], '2mass_cube.fits')

# Make an RGB image
aplpy.make_rgb_image('2mass_cube.fits', '2mass_rgb.png')

# Plot the RGB image using the 2d image to indicate the projection
f = aplpy.FITSFigure('2mass_cube_2d.fits')