detect - Source detection


The gammapy.detect submodule includes low level functions to compute significance and test statistics images as well as some high level source detection method prototypes.

Detailed description of the methods can be found in [Stewart2009] and [LiMa1983].

Note that in Gammapy maps are stored as Numpy arrays, which implies that it’s very easy to use scikit-image or photutils or other packages that have advanced image analysis and source detection methods readily available.

Computation of TS images


Test statistics image computed using TSMapEstimator for an example Fermi dataset.

The gammapy.detect module includes a high performance TSMapEstimator class to compute test statistics (TS) images for gamma-ray data. The implementation is based on the method described in [Stewart2009].

Assuming a certain source morphology, which can be defined by any astropy.convolution.Kernel2D instance, the amplitude of the morphology model is fitted at every pixel of the input data using a Poisson maximum likelihood procedure. As input data a counts, background and exposure images have to be provided. Based on the best fit flux amplitude, the change in TS, compared to the null hypothesis is computed using cash statistics.

To optimize the performance of the code, the fitting procedure is simplified by finding roots of the derivative of the fit statistics with respect to the flux amplitude. This approach is described in detail in Appendix A of [Stewart2009]. To further improve the performance, Pythons’s multiprocessing facility is used.

The following example shows how to compute a TS image for Fermi-LAT 3FHL galactic center data:

from astropy.convolution import Gaussian2DKernel
from gammapy.detect import TSMapEstimator
from gammapy.maps import Map
from gammapy.cube import PSFKernel

counts ="$GAMMAPY_DATA/fermi-3fhl-gc/fermi-3fhl-gc-counts.fits.gz")
background ="$GAMMAPY_DATA/fermi-3fhl-gc/fermi-3fhl-gc-background.fits.gz")
exposure ="$GAMMAPY_DATA/fermi-3fhl-gc/fermi-3fhl-gc-exposure.fits.gz")

maps = {
    "counts": counts,
    "background": background,
    "exposure": exposure,

kernel ="$GAMMAPY_DATA/fermi-3fhl-gc/fermi-3fhl-gc-psf.fits.gz")

ts_estimator = TSMapEstimator()
result =,

The function returns an dictionary, that bundles all resulting maps. E.g. here’s how to find the largest TS value:

import numpy as np

Computation of Li & Ma significance images

The method derived by [LiMa1983] is one of the standard methods to determine detection significances for gamma-ray sources. Using the same prepared Fermi dataset as above, the corresponding images can be computed using the compute_lima_image function:

from astropy.convolution import Tophat2DKernel
from gammapy.maps import Map
from gammapy.detect import compute_lima_image

counts ="$GAMMAPY_DATA/fermi-3fhl-gc/fermi-3fhl-gc-counts.fits.gz")
background ="$GAMMAPY_DATA/fermi-3fhl-gc/fermi-3fhl-gc-background.fits.gz")

kernel = Tophat2DKernel(5)
result = compute_lima_image(counts, background, kernel)

The function returns a dictionary, that bundles all resulting images such as significance, flux and correlated counts and excess images.

Using gammapy.detect

Tutorial notebooks that show examples using gammapy.detect:


gammapy.detect Package

Source detection and measurement methods.


compute_lima_image(counts, background, kernel) Compute Li & Ma significance and flux images for known background.
compute_lima_on_off_image(n_on, n_off, a_on, …) Compute Li & Ma significance and flux images for on-off observations.
find_peaks(image, threshold[, min_distance]) Find local peaks in an image.


ASmooth([kernel, method, threshold, scales]) Adaptively smooth counts image.
CWT(kernels[, max_iter, tol, …]) Continuous wavelet transform.
CWTData(counts, background, n_scale) Images for CWT algorithm.
CWTKernels(n_scale, min_scale, step_scale[, old]) Conduct arrays of kernels and scales for CWT algorithm.
KernelBackgroundEstimator(kernel_src, kernel_bkg) Estimate background and exclusion mask iteratively.
TSMapEstimator([method, error_method, …]) Compute TS map using different optimization methods.