Submillimeter number counts from statistical analysis of blast maps

Guillaume Patanchon, Peter A.R. Ade, James J. Bock, Edward L. Chapin, Mark J. Devlin, Simon R. Dicker, Matthew Griffin, Joshua O. Gundersen, Mark Halpern, Peter C. Hargrave, David H. Hughes, Jeff Klein, Gaelen Marsden, Philip Mauskopf, Lorenzo Moncelsi, Calvin B. Netterfield, Luca Olmi, Enzo Pascale, Marie Rex, Douglas ScottChristopher Semisch, Nicholas Thomas, Matthew D.P. Truch, Carole Tucker, Gregory S. Tucker, Marco P. Viero, Donald V. Wiebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


We describe the application of a statistical method to estimate submillimeter galaxy number counts from confusion-limited observations by the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST). Our method is based on a maximum likelihood fit to the pixel histogram, sometimes called "P(D)," an approach which has been used before to probe faint counts, the difference being that here we advocate its use even for sources with relatively high signal-to-noise ratios. This method has an advantage over standard techniques of source extraction in providing an unbiased estimate of the counts from the bright end down to flux densities well below the confusion limit. We specifically analyze BLAST observations of a roughly 10 deg 2 map centered on the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey South field. We provide estimates of number counts at the three BLAST wavelengths 250, 350, and 500μm; instead of counting sources in flux bins we estimate the counts at several flux density nodes connected with power laws. We observe a generally very steep slope for the counts of about -3.7 at 250 μm, and -4.5 at 350 and 500 μm, over the range 0.02-0.5 Jy, breaking to a shallower slope below about 0.015 Jy at all three wavelengths. We also describe how to estimate the uncertainties and correlations in this method so that the results can be used for model-fitting. This method should be well suited for analysis of data from the Herschel satellite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1750-1765
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: statistics
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Submillimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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