We discuss the transformation of observed photometry into flux for the creation of spectral energy distributions (SED) and the computation of bolometric luminosities. We do this in the context of supernova studies, particularly as observed with the Swift spacecraft, but the concepts and techniques should be applicable to many other types of sources and wavelength regimes. Traditional methods of converting observed magnitudes to flux densities are not very accurate when applied to UV photometry. Common methods for extinction and the integration of pseudo-bolometric fluxes can also lead to inaccurate results. The sources of inaccuracy, though, also apply to other wavelengths. Because of the complicated nature of translating broadband photometry into monochromatic flux densities, comparison between observed photometry and a spectroscopic model is best done by forward modeling the spectrum into the count rates or magnitudes of the observations. We recommend that integrated flux measurements be made using a spectrum or SED which is consistent with the multi-band photometry rather than converting individual photometric measurements to flux densities, linearly interpolating between the points, and integrating. We also highlight some specific areas where the UV flux can be mischaracterized.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science