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Definition of the Flexible Image Transport System (FITS), Version 3.0The Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) has been used by astronomers for over 30 years as a data interchange and archiving format; FITS files are now handled by a wide range of astronomical software packages. Since the FITS format definition document (the "standard") was last printed in this journal in 2001, several new features have been developed and standardized, notably support for 64-bit integers in images and tables, variable-length arrays in tables, and new world coordinate system conventions which provide a mapping from an element in a data array to a physical coordinate on the sky or within a spectrum. The FITS Working Group of the International Astronomical Union has therefore produced this new Version 3.0 of the FITS standard, which is provided here in its entirety. In addition to describing the new features in FITS, numerous editorial changes were made to the previous version to clarify and reorganize many of the sections. Also included are some appendices which are not formally part of the standard. The FITS standard is likely to undergo further evolution, in which case the latest version may be found on the FITS Support Office Web site at, which also provides many links to FITS-related resources.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Pence, W. D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Chiapetti, L. (Milan Univ. Italy)
Page, C. G. (Leicester Univ. United Kingdom)
Shaw, R. A. (National Optical Astronomy Observatories Tucson, AZ, United States)
Stobie, E. (National Optical Astronomy Observatories Tucson, AZ, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
July 7, 2010
Subject Category
Distribution Limits