Unit Systems (gala.units)


This subpackage contains a class for handling systems of units and has a few useful, pre-defined systems for astrodynamics.

For the examples below, I assume the following imports have been already executed:

>>> import astropy.units as u
>>> from gala.units import UnitSystem

Unit Systems


Unit system support may eventually move to the Astropy project.

At its simplest, a unit system is a container class that holds a set of base units that specify length, time, mass, and angle. A UnitSystem object is created by passing in units with (at least) these four required physical types:

>>> usys = UnitSystem(u.cm, u.millisecond, u.degree, u.gram)
>>> usys
<UnitSystem (cm,ms,g,deg)>

Astropy Quantity objects can be decomposed into this unit system using decompose():

>>> a = 15*u.km/u.s
>>> a.decompose(usys)
<Quantity 1500. cm / ms>

UnitSystem objects can also act as a dictionary to look up a unit for a given physical type. For example, if we want to know what a ‘speed’ unit is in a given unit system, simple pass 'speed' in as a key:

>>> usys['speed']
Unit("cm / ms")

This works for the base unit physical types as well, and for more complex physical types:

>>> usys['length']
>>> usys['pressure']
Unit("g / (cm ms2)")

Default representations of composite units

It is sometimes useful to have default representations for physical types that are not composites of base units. For example, for kinematic within the Milky Way, the base unit system is usually kpc, Myr, Msun, radian, but velocities (speeds) are often given in terms of km/s. To change the default representation of a composite unit, just specify the preferred unit on creation:

>>> usys = UnitSystem(u.kpc, u.Myr, u.radian, u.Msun)
>>> usys2 = UnitSystem(u.kpc, u.Myr, u.radian, u.Msun, u.km/u.s)
>>> usys['speed'], usys2['speed']
(Unit("kpc / Myr"), Unit("km / s"))

For unit systems with specified composite units (e.g., usys2 above), the Astropy decompose() method will fail because it only uses the base units:

>>> q = (150*u.pc/u.Myr)
>>> q.decompose(usys2)
<Quantity 0.15 kpc / Myr>

Because we specified a unit for quantities with a physical type = ‘speed’, we instead want to use the decompose method of the UnitSystem object, which has exactly opposite call syntax:

>>> usys2.decompose(q)
<Quantity 146.66883325 km / s>


gala.units Module



UnitSystem(units, *args)

Represents a system of units.