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Proceedings Paper

Using drift scans to improve astrometry with Spitzer
Author(s): James G. Ingalls; Sean J. Carey; Patrick J. Lowrance; Carl J. Grillmair; John R. Stauffer
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Paper Abstract

The Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) is the only space-based instrument currently capable of continuous long duration monitoring of brown dwarfs to detect variability and characterize their atmospheres. Any such studies are limited, however, by the accuracy to which we know the positions and distances to these targets (most of which are newly discovered and therefore do not yet have multiple epochs of astrometric data). To that end, we have begun a new initiative to adapt the astrometric drift scanning technique employed by the Hubble Space Telescope to enhance Spitzer measurements of parallaxes and proper motions of brown dwarfs and other targets. A suite of images are taken with a set of sources scanned across the array. This technique reduces random noise by coaddition, and because each target covers multiple pixels we are able to average over residual instrumental distortion and intra-pixel variations. Although these benefits can be realized with appropriate dithering, scanning is much more effcient because we can take data concurrently with the spacecraft motion, covering many pixels without waiting to reposition and settle. In this contribution we demonstrate that the observing mode works and describe our software for analyzing the observations. We outline ongoing efforts towards simultaneously solving for source position and residual distortion. Initial testing shows a factor of more than 2 improvement in the astrometric precision can be obtained with Spitzer. We anticipate being able to measure parallaxes for sources out to about 50 pc, increasing the volume surveyed by a factor of 100 and enabling luminosity measurements of the young population of brown dwarfs in the β Pictoris moving group. This observing mode will be ready for public use around Winter of 2015.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 August 2014
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 91431M (2 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2056755
Show Author Affiliations
James G. Ingalls, Spitzer Science Ctr. (United States)
Sean J. Carey, Spitzer Science Ctr. (United States)
Patrick J. Lowrance, Spitzer Science Ctr. (United States)
Carl J. Grillmair, Spitzer Science Ctr. (United States)
John R. Stauffer, Spitzer Science Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9143:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Jacobus M. Oschmann Jr.; Mark Clampin; Giovanni G. Fazio; Howard A. MacEwen, Editor(s)

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