Spitzer Documentation & Tools
Naming Conventions

Dataset IDs for Spitzer Data

There is now an AASTeX macro that lets you include Data Set Identifiers in your paper that will provide a link from the electronic edition of your manuscript to the Spitzer archive.

The AASTeX macro is:


The 'Catalog ID' is the identifier for your Spitzer dataset and the 'text' will appear in your article.

The dataset identifier has the format ADS/Sa.Spitzer#0003861504.

  • Sa.Spitzer means that the data comes from the Spitzer satellite.
  • The number following the # is the unique Spitzer identifier for this data set, e.g. 0003861504 (from the AORKEY). Each identifier corresponds to one Spitzer Astronomical Observation Request (AOR)

IAU Naming Convention

If you find new objects in your data that are unique to Spitzer data (e.g. without 2MASS counterparts) and/or you are producing catalogs of objects found in your data, please use the IAU-approved naming convention for your objects. Here follows some naming guidelines.

Please use "Spitzer Space Telescope" - SST - as the basis. Following the convention from recent space telescopes, names for our sources are of the form SSTxxx JHHMMSS.ss+DDMMSS.s, where the xxx should be a unique combination of letters (not necessarily three) that is used for a specific, big block of SST data.

The biggest blocks for us are Legacy and FLS.

Possible acronyms for the main catalogs from those projects are:

Legacy ProgramProposed Acronym
C2D SSTc2d
First Look Survey SSTGFLS (galactic)
SSTXFLS (extragal)

It is entirely possible that the Legacy teams will want to add another letter, to designate specific subsets of their data - or to denote different processing versions or levels of analysis (GLIMPSE could have GLM for its main catalog, and GLMA for its more extended, deeper catalog, for example).

Any GO who releases a large catalog would be allowed to designate their targets by an acronym of the same form SSTxxx, where they choose xxx (after checking to see if it was already taken).

"Unregistered" Spitzer sources would be designated "SSTU JHHMMSS.ss-DDMMSS.s". This designation should be used for cases where you publish a paper with just a few objects in it - e.g. for a quick look analysis of a piece of a big survey (such as for an ApJLetter, perhaps).

Note the number of decimal places in the RA and DEC fields of the name. Also, be aware that to go from your measured coordinate, you truncate the position to that number of decimals rather than round. If you have a catalog that derives only from MIPS data, it may be appropriate to designate fewer decimal places in the name.

To start the process, we have registered SSTGFLS, SSTXFLS, and SSTU with the IAU. As you determine the need for other acronyms, we suggest you register them. Because the IAU system is a "first come, first served" process, it may be beneficial to subscribe a given acronym as early as possible (before someone else takes the name for their group).

Registering names with the IAU can be done at:

An example of the filled-in fields for the SSTU designation is given below.

meaning=Spitzer Space Telescope Unregistered
format=HHMMSS.ss DDMMSS.s
N=? (number of sources with this designation - answer unknown)
Example1=SSTU J123456.78+112233.4
Example2=SSTU J105544.34-332211.0
Position1=12 34 56.789 +11 22 33.49
Position2=10 55 44.349 -33 22 11.09
name= Your Name Here
institute= Your Institute
text=   The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in August 2003, and began
        nominal operations in December 2003. The expected lifetime for Spitzer
        is 5.5 years (cryogen lifetime), but there may be an extended mission beyond
        that with just the two shortest wavelength cameras operating. Spitzer
        includes three prime science instruments: IRAC - a near-IR camera with
        four bands (3.6, 4.5, 5.8 and 8.0 microns); MIPS - a mid to far IR camera,
        with three bands (24, 70 and 160 microns) plus a very low resolution
        spectroscopic capability (the SED mode); and IRS - a spectrograph covering
        the 5-37 micron region with two spectral resolutions. Observing time on
        Spitzer is divided between Guaranteed Time Observers, a set of six Legacy
        Science Teams doing large surveys, and General Observers who will obtain
        time via annual calls for proposals. We expect that there will be many
        programs where a small region of sky is surveyed, and only a few "interesting"
        new objects are identified, or where a rapid-publication "letter" will be
        submitted to a journal describing only the most interesting object in a field,
        and we expect to recommend that observers use the SSTU designation for these
        objects. see http://irsa.ipac.caltech.edu/data/SPITZER/docs/ for a brief
        overview of Spitzer.