This is the description of the 1996 May 28 FIRST catalog. It has been replaced by a newer catalog. Old released versions of the FIRST catalog are made available for archival purposes for the benefit of those who have already started research programs based on those catalogs. The newest version is always preferred for new projects.
See the catalog history for information on changes in the various FIRST catalogs.
This catalog covers a much larger area than the initially released FIRST catalog (95jan06) and also is of higher quality. Note that the format has changed slightly, as have the interpretations of some of the columns. This version of the catalog is preferred for all scientific programs.
The catalog is sorted by right ascension and has the following format:
RA (2000) Dec W Fpeak Fint Rms Maj Min PA Field Name 06 50 44.043 +31 10 00.14 1.16 0.64 0.147 -3.0 -4.0 0.0 06510+31143B 06 51 02.178 +31 11 13.33 1.58 2.66 0.139 5.0 3.9 90.4 06510+31143B 06 51 03.824 +31 13 03.32 W 1.02 1.42 0.137 7.6 -3.3 0.0 06510+31143B 06 51 06.135 +31 19 01.97 7.29 9.64 0.145 4.1 1.8 131.3 06510+31143B 06 51 10.781 +31 11 28.81 72.37 100.78 0.141 4.2 2.5 9.8 06510+31143B
unc(90% confidence) = sqrt(5.4**2 + Size**2) (1/SNR + 1/20) arcsecwhere Size is either the major or minor axis FWHM as given in the catalog and SNR is the peak flux density signal-to-noise ratio:
SNR = (Fpeak-0.25) / Rms(The positional uncertainty is of course elliptical for elliptical sources.) The best possible positional uncertainty is limited to about 0.2 arcsec by our ability to fit source positions in maps with 1.8 arcsec pixels. Systematic errors in the positions are smaller than 0.05 arcsec.
The uncertainty in Fpeak is given by the rms noise at the source position, while the uncertainty in Fint can be considerably greater depending on the source size and morphology. For bright sources the accuracies of Fpeak and Fint are limited to about 5% by systematic effects. Note that for sources that are not well-described by an elliptical Gaussian model, Fint is not an accurate measure of the integrated flux density.
A FITS image giving the rms noise as a function of position on the sky is available. This is a 2200 x 299 pixel image (2.6 Mbytes) with the rms in mJy/beam tabulated on a ~3 arcmin grid in RA and Declination. If there is no source in the catalog at a given position, the source peak flux density is less than 5 times the coverage map rms value at that position.
Noise can cause the fitted values of the major and minor axes (before deconvolution) to be smaller than the beam. To preserve this information in the catalog, the deconvolved sizes are negative when the fitted size is smaller than the beam. The fitted sizes can be recovered by
Maj(fitted) = sqrt(5.4**2 + Maj**2) if Maj > 0 = sqrt(5.4**2 - Maj**2) if Maj < 0and similarly for Min(fitted). For most purposes the best estimates of the source size are max(Maj,0) and max(Min,0).
The uncertainties in the sizes depend on both the brightness and the sizes. Objects at the catalog flux density limit have uncertainties of about 2 arcsec in their sizes (so faint objects with Maj < 2 arcsec are consistent with point sources.) An simple empirical estimate of the uncertainty is
Sigma(Size) = 10 arcsec (1/SNR + 1/75)where SNR is the signal-to-noise ratio defined above.
Field names that end with A were constructed entirely from 1993 observations, while fields names than end with B include at least some data from 1994 observations. Thus the A or B gives a rough indication of the epoch of the observation.