Spectrum 1.2 Proposed Recommendation: Request for Comments


The Spectrum Data Model describes the structure of spectrophotometric datasets with spectral and temporal coordinates and associated metadata.

This update satisfies an enhancement request by IPAC to add support for the following use cases:

  • 1-D spectra from Spitzerís Infrared Spectrograph have multiple spectral orders
    • Spectral orders can overlap in wavelength
    • Plotting a Spitzer spectrum without accounting for orders gives you a mess
  • SEDs often include limits on measurements
    • these can be upper or lower limits
    • Plotters need to indicate limits clearly to avoid scientific misunderstanding
    • SDM1.1 has an ad-hoc representation for upper limits (only) which may be usable, but is conceptually incorrect.
The main changes in the v1.2 document are:
  • Section 4.1.1: addition of 'order' and 'relorder' attributes
  • Section 4.6.3: addition of 'UpperLimit' and 'LowerLimit' to explicitly express these concepts
  • Corrected UTypes in VOTable example #1
  • Updated diagrams to proper UML with improved consistency with the schema and text.
Latest version of SpectrumDM can be found at: The GitHub repository for issues and model development can be found at: The IVOA Twiki page for the project can be found at:

<a name="Reference Interoperable Implemen"></a>Reference Interoperable Implementations

The implementation level for this RFE is not as comprehensive as we would typically look for in a REC.

The DM working group consulted with the TCG prior to the start of this RFC and it was agreed that given

  • this is a minor revision based on a specific institution request
  • the request is targeted to serve a very specific purpose
  • the model is not VO-DML compliant, so the level of effort required to produce additional implementations, serializations, validators is out of proportion to the impact of the RFE.
the level of implementation for this enhancement is acceptable.

Data Providers:

  • IPAC Firefly Archive toolkit:
    • "For some time, IPAC's Firefly archive GUI toolkit has taken advantage of IVOA Spectral Data Model (SDM) v1.1 to provide users with automatic plots of spectra that are the result of a query or have been uploaded to the tool. The plotting capability uses the SDM to identify which data to plot on the x and y axes and to change units. Firefly has recently been updated to recognize the new utypes specified in the proposed Spectral Data Model v1.2, namely:


      The toolkit uses these new utypes to plot orders (as found in e.g. Spitzer spectra) as separate traces, and to plot upper and lower limits as arrows (as found in e.g. SEDs). These changes are currently in test and will be released in May. Upon release, these features will be available in IRSA, Rubin, and NED interfaces, all of which are built upon the open-source Firefly toolkit.

      In a future release, Firefly will recognize the spec:Spectrum.Data.SpectralAxis.RelOrder utype proposed in SDMv1.2. When Firefly encounters a spectrum with only RelOrder and not Order, it will automatically plot each unique RelOrder as a different trace, analogous to how it treats Order. If a spectrum contains both Order and RelOrder, Firefly will automatically plot traces based on Order but will provide the user a toggle to plot RelOrder."

<a name="Implementations Validators"></a>Implementations Validators

There is no dedicated validator for Spectrum data model instances to update for this enhancement.

Since this is not a VO-DML compliant model, the mechanisms for

  • validating the data model itself
  • generating and validating example serializations in VOTable, XML, etc.
  • generating model based code
are not available.

<a name="Comments from the IVOA Community"></a>Comments from the IVOA Community during RFC/TCG review period: 2023-09-11 - 2023-10-23

The comments from the TCG members during the RFC/TCG review should be included in the next section.

In order to add a comment to the document, please edit this page and add your comment to the list below in the format used for the example (include your Wiki Name so that authors can contact you for further information). When the author(s) of the document have considered the comment, they will provide a response after the comment.

Additional discussion about any of the comments or responses can be conducted on the WG mailing list. However, please be sure to enter your initial comments here for full consideration in any future revisions of this document

Comment by JesusSalgado

This is a preliminary comment: Version 1.0 had a java library implemented by Kelly McCusker (not in IVOA anymore) and Jonathan McDowell that allowed parsing and writing of spectral data compatible with 1.0. It would be great to obtain a version of this library and adapt it for these minor changes.

This library was used by some tools (e.g. VOSpec)

JesusSalgado - 2023-09-22

<a name="Comments from TCG member during"></a>Comments from TCG member during the RFC/TCG Review Period: 2023-09-11 - 2023-10-23

WG chairs or vice chairs must read the Document, provide comments if any (including on topics not directly linked to the Group matters) or indicate that they have no comment.

IG chairs or vice chairs are also encouraged to do the same, althought their inputs are not compulsory.

<a name="TCG Chair Vice Chair"></a>TCG Chair & Vice Chair

<a name="Applications Working Group"></a> Applications Working Group

<a name="Data Access Layer Working Group"></a> Data Access Layer Working Group

<a name="Data Model Working Group"></a> Data Model Working Group

<a name="Grid Web Services Working Group"></a> Grid & Web Services Working Group

<a name="Registry Working Group"></a> Registry Working Group

<a name="Semantics Working Group"></a> Semantics Working Group

<a name="Data Curation Preservation Inte"></a> Data Curation & Preservation Interest Group

<a name="Education Interest Group"></a> Education Interest Group

<a name="Knowledge Discovery Interest Gro"></a> Knowledge Discovery Interest Group

<a name="Operations Interest Group"></a> Operations Interest Group

<a name="Radio Astronomy Interest Group"></a> Radio Astronomy Interest Group

<a name="Solar System Interest Group"></a> Solar System Interest Group

<a name="Theory Interest Group"></a> Theory Interest Group

<a name="Time Domain Interest Group"></a> Time Domain Interest Group

<a name="Standards and Processes Committe"></a> Standards and Processes Committee

<a name="TCG Vote : Vote_start_date - Vot"></a>TCG Vote : Vote_start_date - Vote_end_date

If you have minor comments (typos) on the last version of the document please indicate it in the Comments column of the table and post them in the TCG comments section above with the date.

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Topic revision: r3 - 2023-09-22 - JesusSalgado
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