Techniques and Review of Absolute Flux Calibration from the Ultraviolet to the Mid-Infrared

Bohlin, Ralph C., Gordon, Karl D., & Tremblay, P.-E.
2014, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Pacific, 126, 711

The measurement of precise absolute fluxes for stellar sources has been pursued with increased vigor since the discovery of dark energy and the realization that its detailed understanding requires accurate spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of redshifted Ia supernovae in the rest frame. The flux distributions of spectrophotometric standard stars were initially derived from the comparison of stars to laboratory sources of known flux but are now mostly based on calculated model atmospheres. For example, pure hydrogen white dwarf (WD) models provide the basis for the HST CALSPEC archive of flux standards. The basic equations for quantitative spectrophotometry and photometry are explained in detail. Several historical lab-based flux calibrations are reviewed; and the SEDs of stars in the major online astronomical databases are compared to the CALSPEC reference standard spectrophotometry. There is good evidence that relative fluxes from the visible to the near-IR wavelength of ~2.5 μm are currently accurate to 1% for the primary reference standards, and new comparisons with lab flux standards show promise for improving that precision.


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