For the examples below, we assume the following imports have already been executed:

>>> import astropy.units as u
>>> import astropy.coordinates as coord
>>> import numpy as np
>>> import gala.coordinates as gc

Great circle and stellar stream coordinate frames#


Great circle coordinate systems are defined as a rotation from another spherical coordinate system, such as the ICRS. The great circle system is defined by a specified (north) pole and spherical origin – i.e. a specification of the new coordinate system x and z axes in components of the old coordinate system.

gala currently supports great circle frames that are defined as a rotation away from the ICRS (RA, Dec) through the GreatCircleICRSFrame class. To create a new great circle frame with the default initializer, you must specify a pole using the pole keyword argument and the spherical origin with the origin argument. However, this frame also supports other initialization paths through the from_ classmethods (see API below). These classmethods are the most useful initialization methods. For example, to define a great circle system with the pole at (RA, Dec) = (32.5, 19.8)º and a longitude 0 at RA=100º, we first have to create a coordinate object for the pole:

>>> pole = coord.SkyCoord(ra=32.5*u.deg, dec=19.8*u.deg)

We can then pass this pole to the from_pole_ra0 classmethod to define our coordinate frame:

>>> frame = gc.GreatCircleICRSFrame.from_pole_ra0(pole=pole, ra0=100*u.deg)

This frame instance acts like any other Astropy coordinate frame. For example, we can transform other coordinates to this new coordinate system using:

>>> c = coord.SkyCoord(ra=[160, 53]*u.deg, dec=[-11, 9]*u.deg)
>>> c_fr = c.transform_to(frame)
>>> c_fr 
<SkyCoord (GreatCircleICRSFrame: pole=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (32.5, 19.8)>, origin=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (280., 46.74765478)>, priority=origin): (phi1, phi2) in deg
    [(-127.59199268, -38.82050866), (-154.93887946,  67.43382209)]>

The spherical coordinate components of the resulting great circle frame are always named phi1 and phi2, so to access the longitude and latitude in the new system, we use:

>>> c_fr.phi1 
<Longitude [-127.59199268, -154.93887946] deg>
>>> c_fr.phi2 
<Latitude [-38.82050866,  67.43382209] deg>

The transformation also works for velocity components. For example, if we have a sky position and proper motions, we can transform to the great circle frame in the same way:

>>> c2 = coord.SkyCoord(
...     ra=160*u.deg,
...     dec=-11*u.deg,
...     pm_ra_cosdec=5*u.mas/u.yr,
...     pm_dec=0.3*u.mas/u.yr
... )
>>> c2_fr = c2.transform_to(frame)
>>> c2_fr.phi1 
<Longitude -127.59199268 deg>
>>> c2_fr.pm_phi1_cosphi2 
<Quantity 1.71997614 mas / yr>
>>> c2_fr.pm_phi2 
<Quantity -4.70443217 mas / yr>

The generic great circle frame can also handle transforming from great circle coordinates to other coordinate frames. For example, to transform a grid of points along a great circle to the ICRS system, we would define a frame with positional data and a specified pole:

>>> c3_fr = gc.GreatCircleICRSFrame(
...     phi1=np.linspace(0, 360, 8)*u.deg,
...     phi2=0*u.deg,
...     pole=frame.pole,
...     origin=frame.origin
... )
>>> c3 = c3_fr.transform_to(coord.ICRS())
>>> c3.ra 
<Longitude [280.        , 302.73861084, 326.04009238,  67.95460569,
            113.51995793, 132.05271289, 180.05477998, 280.        ] deg>

Creating a coordinate frame from two points along a great circle#

It is sometimes convenient to define a great circle coordinate frame by specifying two endpoints of an arc segment along a great circle (instead of the pole). For these use cases, the from_endpoints provides a convenience classmethod for creating a great circle frame with endpoints:

>>> endpoints = coord.SkyCoord(
...     ra=[-38.8, 4.7]*u.deg,
...     dec=[-45.1, -51.7]*u.deg
... )
>>> frame2 = gc.GreatCircleICRSFrame.from_endpoints(endpoints[0], endpoints[1])
>>> frame2
<GreatCircleICRSFrame Frame (pole=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (359.1291976, 38.16814051)>, origin=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (341.46580563, -50.48035324)>, priority=origin)>

Without specifying a longitude zeropoint, the default behavior of the above classmethod is to take the spherical midpoint of the two endpoints as the longitude zeropoint. However, a custom zeropoint can be specified using the ra0 keyword argument. For example:

>>> frame3 = gc.GreatCircleICRSFrame.from_endpoints(
...     endpoints[0], endpoints[1], ra0=150*u.deg
... )
>>> frame3
<GreatCircleICRSFrame Frame (pole=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (359.1291976, 38.16814051)>, origin=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (330., -48.01820335)>, priority=origin)>

Creating a coordinate frame from endpoints and an origin#

When working with stellar streams, it is sometimes useful to create a stream-aligned coordinate frame by specifying an exact origin for the new great circle coordinate frame (e.g., set to the progenitor system) along with the endpoints of the stream (which are often close to defining a great circle). In these cases, the great circle defined by the endpoints and the great circle defined by the origin may not be orthogonal. You can still use these to create a GreatCircleICRSFrame, but by default the pole location will be adjusted to be orthogonal to the input origin:

>>> endpoints = coord.SkyCoord(
...     ra=[-38.8, 4.7]*u.deg,
...     dec=[-45.1, -51.7]*u.deg
... )
>>> origin = coord.SkyCoord(330., -48., unit=u.deg)
>>> frame4 = gc.GreatCircleICRSFrame.from_endpoints(  
...     endpoints[0], endpoints[1], origin=origin
... )
>>> frame4
<GreatCircleICRSFrame Frame (pole=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (359.13616655, 38.18404071)>, origin=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (330., -48.)>, priority=origin)>

Creating a coordinate frame from a pole and longitude zero point#

Another common way of initializing great circle coordinate systems is with a pole and a longitude zero point (as was previously — prior to v1.7 — allowed in the initializer GreatCircleICRSFrame). This can now be done with the from_pole_ra0 classmethod:

>>> frame5 = gc.GreatCircleICRSFrame.from_pole_ra0(
...     pole=pole, ra0=100*u.deg
... )
>>> frame5
<GreatCircleICRSFrame Frame (pole=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (32.5, 19.8)>, origin=<ICRS Coordinate: (ra, dec) in deg
    (280., 46.74765478)>, priority=origin)>

With just these inputs, there is an ambiguity in the definition of the coordinate frame because the great circles defined by the pole and longitude zero point intersect at two locations (so there are two possible origins, one being the negative of the other). The convention here is to pick the origin closest to (0, 0). To have finer control over which origin is picked, you can also pass in a sky coordinate object with the origin_disambiguate argument, and the origin closest to this coordinate will be used to define the coordinate frame.


gala.coordinates.greatcircle Module#


make_greatcircle_cls(cls_name[, ...])

pole_from_endpoints(coord1, coord2)

Compute the pole from a great circle that connects the two specified coordinates.


GreatCircleICRSFrame(*args, **kwargs)

A coordinate frame defined by a pole and origin.