AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 4. Instruments: Real and Proposed
Display, Monday, June 4, 2001, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[4.02] Charge Transfer Efficiency in the WFPC2 CCD Arrays

J. Biretta, S. Baggett, A. Riess, A. Schultz, S. Casertano, S. Gonzaga, I. Heyer, A. Koekemoer, J. Mack, M. McMaster (STScI)

We present an overview of Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE) issues in the WFPC2 CCDs, including results of recent on-orbit tests, and advice on mitigating CTE effects. CTE causes targets far from the CCD readout amplifier to appear fainter than similar targets near the amplifier. For bright targets, the maximum effect is only a few percent, but for faint stellar targets in recent images with very low background, the CTE effects can reach 50% or more. Studies using hotpixels, cosmic rays, and residual images as probes of CTE have revealed at least four distinct components of CTE losses. The largest effect appears related to trapping and release of charge on timescales of hundreds of milliseconds during the readout process. This is manifest as tails on images which extend for dozens of pixels in the Y-direction (parallel register direction) on the CCDs, which have the effect of robbing counts from typical small apertures used for photometry. Extended targets also are subject to CTE effects. Recent work shows that within small apertures, the CTE losses for faint galaxies are roughly similar to those for stellar targets with the same total counts. There are also small effects on the shapes of faint galaxies: the average profiles are asymmetric and consistent with charge being lost primarily from the amplifier side of the galaxy. We present current results of long-term photometric monitoring which show CTE problems steadily increasing with time. There is also some evidence for an acceleration of the effect. Preflashing the CCDs can reduce CTE effects, but the added noise usually makes this unattractive. A noise-less preflash technique has been tested, but only provides modest improvement. We discuss photometric CTE corrections which can be applied during data analysis, including the new Dolphin (2000) CTE corrections and their relation to the Whitmore et al. (1999) corrections.

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