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Proceedings Paper

HST/WFC3: understanding and mitigating radiation damage effects in the CCD detectors
Author(s): S. M. Baggett; J. Anderson; M. Sosey; C. Gosmeyer; M. Bourque; V. Bajaj; H. Khandrika; C. Martlin
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Paper Abstract

At the heart of the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 (HST/WFC3) UVIS channel is a 4096x4096 pixel e2v CCD array. While these detectors continue to perform extremely well after more than 7 years in low-earth orbit, the cumulative effects of radiation damage are becoming increasingly evident. The result is a continual increase of the hotpixel population and the progressive loss in charge-transfer efficiency (CTE) over time. The decline in CTE has two effects: (1) it reduces the detected source flux as the defects trap charge during readout and (2) it systematically shifts source centroids as the trapped charge is later released. The flux losses can be significant, particularly for faint sources in low background images. In this report, we summarize the radiation damage effects seen in WFC3/UVIS and the evolution of the CTE losses as a function of time, source brightness, and image-background level. In addition, we discuss the available mitigation options, including target placement within the field of view, empirical stellar photometric corrections, post-flash mode and an empirical pixel-based CTE correction. The application of a post-flash has been remarkably effective in WFC3 at reducing CTE losses in low-background images for a relatively small noise penalty. Currently, all WFC3 observers are encouraged to consider post-flash for images with low backgrounds. Finally, a pixel-based CTE correction is available for use after the images have been acquired. Similar to the software in use in the HST Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) pipeline, the algorithm employs an observationally-defined model of how much charge is captured and released in order to reconstruct the image. As of Feb 2016, the pixel-based CTE correction is part of the automated WFC3 calibration pipeline. Observers with pre-existing data may request their images from MAST (Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes) to obtain the improved products.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2016
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9904, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 99045D (29 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233407
Show Author Affiliations
S. M. Baggett, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
J. Anderson, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
M. Sosey, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
C. Gosmeyer, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
M. Bourque, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
V. Bajaj, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
H. Khandrika, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
C. Martlin, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9904:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Howard A. MacEwen; Giovanni G. Fazio; Makenzie Lystrup; Natalie Batalha; Nicholas Siegler; Edward C. Tong, Editor(s)

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