Significant improvements in our understanding of the physical conditions in active galaxies requires the development of sophisticated models that can predict in detail the emission from the nucleus. Accurate measurements of both the UV continua and the many weak diagnostic UV lines provide critical calibrations for such models.
Rigorous comparisons of the HST FOS and IUE UV flux calibrations have so far been performed using spectrophotometric standard star spectra. These calibration observations have precision acquisition sequences and the spectra have very high S/N. Such data are not representative of typical FOS observations of an AGN, which often cannot be acquired with the same precision as standard stars, especially for pre-COSTAR data. Furthermore, the UV flux from a typical AGN is several magnitudes fainter than from a spectrophotometric standard star, and is more representative of typical non-stellar fluxes. Flux-dependent effects (in either FOS or IUE) may need to be considered at these lower flux levels.