Pulsar Software Manuals

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This site provides extensive documentation for the various pulsar data processing applications developed at Swinburne using the PSRCHIVE library scheme. The use of PSRCHIVE-based code means that all these applications can read and write to multiple file formats, including TimerArchive, FITSArchive, PuMA and EPN formats. The PSRCHIVE scheme is entirely modular and object oriented (Hotan, van Straten and Manchester, PASA, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp. 302-309), allowing new file formats to be incorporated into existing applications through the use of shared object libraries. Widespread use of these applications will help standardise pulsar data processing, leading to greater portability of data.

All the following applications are available at Swinburne, within the pulsar group at the ATNF, at the Parkes radio telescope, Sydney Uni, ASTRON in the Netherlands, Caltech in the United States, Bologna in Italy, and a growing list of others. The software is installed using the standard UNIX autoconf tools, as described here. It is free of charge (for academic use).


  • pav (Pulsar Archive Viewer)
  • pav is a simple visualisation tool that can plot various representations of the data in an archive. It is based on the pgplot graphics subroutine set.

    Go to the manual

  • psrgui (PulSaR Graphical User Interface)
  • This program is a simple GUI written using the Qt widget set. It allows you to open multiple archive files and display their data in a variety of ways, using a simple "point-and-click" style interface under X11.

    Go to the manual

  • vap (Viewer of Archive Parameters)
  • vap is the next generation psrhead. Use it to examine the contents of archive headers without having to open the entire file. VAP allows you to specify the parameters you are interested in using a list of key words. Wildcard based filenames can be given to allow the mass interrogation of archives in a directory.

    Go to the manual

  • pac (Pulsar Archive Calibrator)
  • pac is a command-line archive calibration tool. It uses a database scheme to manage CAL archives and perform flux and polarimetric correction procedures on pulsar observations. You can select from various different calibration schemes at runtime.

    Go to the manual

  • pcm (Polarization Calibration Modelling)
  • pcm is a command-line tool used to generate polarimetric models of observing systems via the self-cal procedure.

    Go to the manual

  • fluxcal (Flux Calibrator Generation)
  • fluxcal is a command-line tool used to generate tables of receiver sensitivity information from observations on and off a know flux calibrator source. These tables are commonly stored using the FLUX_CAL header unit within the PSRFITS file definition. They are read by pac in order to calibrate the flux scale of an observed profile.

    Go to the manual

  • paz (Pulsar Archive Zapper)
  • paz is an RFI rejection tool. It can delete or zero-weight frequency channels and sub-integrations at the request of the user, allowing the removal of corrupted segments from otherwise useful data.

    Go to the manual

  • pat (Pulsar Archive Timer)
  • pat is used to obtain pulse arrival times from an archive. Usually it will be used in conjunction with TEMPO or TEMPO2

    Go to the manual

  • pam (Pulsar Archive Manipulator)
  • pam is a general purpose archive manipulation tool that allows archives to be scrunched, rotated, corrected and otherwise altered.

    Go to the manual

  • pas (Pulsar Archive Standards)
  • pas is designed to facilitate the creation of standard template profiles for use in generating arrival times.

    Go to the manual

  • psradd (Pulsar Adder)
  • psradd is used to combine archives, generating high S/N profiles from a selection of shorter observations. It does a lot of sanity checking to ensure that the end result is valid.

    Go to the Manual

  • rhythm (Pulsar Timing System)
  • rhythm is a modern graphical user interface to TEMPO, the standard pulsar timing analysis software. It provides an intuitive, powerful and user friendly environment in which to analyse pulse TOA data. At the moment it is not compatible with TEMPO2.

    Go to the Manual

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Last updated, 14th August 2004

408 MHz map of the galactic plane, courtesy of NASA