What are FITS files and why are they used in astronomy?

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What are FITS files and why are they used in astronomy?

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FITS is an image file format that was developed by astronomers to fit their specific needs:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FITS

It can store standardized metadata like which part of the sky is in the picture, and when it was taken, parameters of the telescope that affect the image. Also, “it is possible to store x-ray and infrared exposures in the same file”

It’s a specific type of file with 2 parts: a header and tables

The header provides all of the metadata for the image (sky coordinates, resolution, exposure time, who made the file, etc)

The tables are the raw data from the telescope, each spot is a number representing how many photons hit a particular pixel. Running a table through some basic computer program will give you the raw image, but generally you need to do some further processing to see the interesting features. You can have several tables to a fits file, including pictures with different filters, calibration images, etc