R and some useful packages

Various software tools can be used for astrostatistics. Open source and/or freely available software packages are great in particular for hobbyists. Therefore we recommend using R, a widely used and powerful open source software tool for statistics. See the R project page: and the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN)
Hundreds of packages are available extending the capabilities of R, see Some packages specifically useful for astronomy and astrostatistics are listed below. If you have tips about additional packages please leave a note at the bottom of this page.

FITSio: FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) utilities

Utilities to read and write files in the FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) format, a standard format in astronomy. Present low-level routines allow: * Reading and parsing FITS headers * Reading FITS images (multi-dimensional arrays) * Reading FITS binary tables * Writing FITS images (multi-dimensional arrays) Higher-level functions allow: * Reading files composed of one or more headers and a single (perhaps multidimensional) image or single bintable * Reading bintables into data frames * Generating vectors for image array axes * Scaling and writing images as 16-bit integers Known incompletenesses are reading FITS ASCII table and random group extensions, as well as bit, complex, and array descriptor data types in binary tables.

EBImage: Image processing toolbox for R

EBImage is an R package which provides general purpose functionality for the reading, writing, processing and analysis of images. It is available through Bioconductor, an open source initiative built around R. While primarily aimed at bioinformatics applications, EBImage is very useful for astronomical images too.

RCurl: General network client interface for R

The package allows one to compose general HTTP requests and provides convenient functions to fetch URIs, get & post forms, etc. and process the results returned by the Web server. This package contains functions allowing for conveniently downloading (astronomical) data files from the internet.

Other software and utilities


Routines for manipulation of FITS files. Useful links to various FITS tools and resources. Particularly useful is a utility to decompress compressed FITS file, funpack.