The LAT performance is governed primarily by three things:
A result of the performance analysis is the production of full Instrument Response Functions (IRFs), describing the performance as a function of photon energy, incidence angle, conversion point within the instrument, and other important parameters.
The IRF is the mapping between the incoming photon flux and the detected events. 'Detection' depends not only on the LAT hardware but also on the processing that calculates the event parameters from the observables and assigns probabilities that an event is a photon. Indeed, the different event cuts are based on tradeoffs between the non-photon background, the effective area and the spatial and energy resolution; these cuts result in analysis classes (see the section on LAT Data Products).
To evaluate the LAT response, a dedicated Monte Carlo simulation is performed. A large number of gamma-ray events are simulated in order to cover all possible photon inclination angles and energies with good statistics. This is based on the best available representation of the physics interactions, the instrument, and the on-board and ground processing to produce event classes (see Atwood et al. 2009). The comparison between the properties of the simulated events within a given event class and the input photons gives the instrument response functions.
The IRF is factored into three terms: efficiency in terms of the detector's effective area, and resolution as given by the point spread function (PSF) and energy dispersion. The components of the IRFs are the measured representation of the corresponding figures of merit in terms of the photon true energy and incidence angle. The values associated with each parameterization are defined within the Fermi Science Tools calibration database (CALDB) which is included in the Science Tools distribution. The forms for these functions are presented in the subsequent sections.
Each full IRF set is further split into two complete representations describing photons that convert in either the front or back section of the LAT tracker (described in the LAT overview). Starting from the top of the instrument, the tracker consists of 12 layers of 3% radiation length tungsten converters (front or thin section), followed by 4 layers of 18% radiation length tungsten converters (back or thick section). The angular resolution for photons that convert in the front section is intrinsically better than for those that convert in the back section because the electron-positron pair is detected by the silicon detectors before significant multiple-scattering—which scales with the material thickness—has taken place. Because of this, the parameterization of both the PSF and the energy dispersion must be calculated for front and back events separately. The end result is that the IRFs applied in an analysis must match the event class selection and conversion type selection. Typically, both conversion types are selected and the combined front and back IRF is applied.
Because of the complexity of the IRFs, LAT data analysis must be performed carefully to avoid a mismatch between the selected events and the IRF used within the analysis. There are multiple IRFs delivered with the Fermi Science Tools to allow the user the flexibility necessary for the different analysis types. The LAT data currently being released by the FSSC has been processed using Pass 7 and so the corresponding Pass 7 IRF sets must be used to accurately represent those photons.
Up to August 2011, the FSSC was releasing data passed on the earlier "Pass 6" version of the event selection
Pass 7 event analysis was developed post-launch using information gained from flight data. This includes updates the LAT instrument team added to their Monte Carlo simulations to include the most evident on-orbit effects, like event pile-up. In addition, they have improved their knowledge of the on-orbit effects, including second order dependencies, and singled out some major sources of systematics. P7_V6 IRFs address these issues and constitute what is currently the best description of the LAT instrument the LAT team can provide while remaining in the framework of the Pass 7 event analysis. It is possible that slightly improved IRFs will be released once the LAT instrument team has studied the current data. In all likelihood such IRFs would simply add more details, such as second order dependencies, while remaining essentially indentical to the current P7_V6 IRFs on average. The LAT team is also working on improving the event reconstruction algorithms. These algorithm are responsible for finding the energy and direction of each event, and calculating myriad quantities with are used by the selection algorithms to separate photons from cosmic ray backgrounds. This is a much longer term project and will eventually be released as "Pass 8" of the event selection.
The main features of P7 IRFs are:
Recommendations for the appropriate selection and IRF set to be used within an analysis are provided in the data preparation section of the Cicerone. The tables below give the association between the Pass 7 IRF sets and the photon properties as provided in the LAT photon data.
|P7 IRF name||Event Class (evclass)||Conversion Type||Description|
|P7ULTRACLEAN_V6||4||0+1||Highest quality and lowest background selection - somewhat overconservative, this entails a significant loss of effective area. Recommneded mainly to use as a cross check that observed features are not due to cosmic-ray contamination|
|P7ULTRACLEAN_V6::FRONT||4||0||Front converting events|
|P7ULTRACLEAN_V6::BACK||4||1||Back converting events|
|P7CLEAN_V6||3||0+1||Very high quality and low background selection - recommended for analyses that integrate large regions of the sky. Reduces non-photon spectral features to very low levels.|
|P7CLEAN_V6::FRONT||3||0||Front converting events|
|P7CLEAN_V6::BACK||3||1||Back converting events|
|P7SOURCE_V6||2||0+1||High quality selection - recommended for most analysis|
|P7SOURCE_V6::FRONT||2||0||Front converting events|
|P7SOURCE_V6::BACK||2||1||Back converting events|
|P7SOURCE_V6MC||2||0+1||Monte Carlo PSF - for studies of short term (<1 month) variability|
|P7SOURCE_V6MC::FRONT||2||0||Front converting events|
|P7SOURCE_V6MC::BACK||2||1||Back converting events|
|P7TRANSIENT_V6||0||0+1||Lower quality selection - used for certain transient or timing analysis|
|P7TRANSIENT_V6::FRONT||0||0||Front converting events|
|P7TRANSIENT_V6::BACK||0||1||Back converting events|
Detailed descriptions of the LAT instrument, event analysis, and performance can be found in the following:
The IRFs shown here are based on updated simulations of the instrument that take into account effects measured in flight that were not considered in pre-launch performance estimates. Recent information regarding the results of post-launch testing which led to this formulation can be found in the following documentation: