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Title: Is flat fielding safe for precision CCD astronomy?

The ambitious goals of precision cosmology with wide-field optical surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) demand precision CCD astronomy as their foundation. This in turn requires an understanding of previously uncharacterized sources of systematic error in CCD sensors, many of which manifest themselves as static effective variations in pixel area. Such variation renders a critical assumption behind the traditional procedure of flat fielding—that a sensor's pixels comprise a uniform grid—invalid. In this work, we present a method to infer a curl-free model of a sensor's underlying pixel grid from flat-field images, incorporating the superposition of all electrostatic sensor effects—both known and unknown—present in flat-field data. We use these pixel grid models to estimate the overall impact of sensor systematics on photometry, astrometry, and PSF shape measurements in a representative sensor from the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) and a prototype LSST sensor. Applying the method to DECam data recovers known significant sensor effects for which corrections are currently being developed within DES. For an LSST prototype CCD with pixel-response non-uniformity (PRNU) of 0.4%, we find the impact of "improper" flat fielding on these observables is negligible in nominal .7'' seeing conditions. Furthermore,more » these errors scale linearly with the PRNU, so for future LSST production sensors, which may have larger PRNU, our method provides a way to assess whether pixel-level calibration beyond flat fielding will be required.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Menlo Park, CA (United States); SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States); Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA (United States)
  2. Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Menlo Park, CA (United States); SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
DGE-114747; AC02-76SF00515
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 129; Journal Issue: 978; Journal ID: ISSN 0004-6280
Publisher:
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Research Org:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; instrumentation: detectors; methods: data analysis; methods: observational; techniques: image processing
OSTI Identifier:
1373200

Baumer, Michael, Davis, Christopher P., and Roodman, Aaron. Is flat fielding safe for precision CCD astronomy?. United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/aa749f.
Baumer, Michael, Davis, Christopher P., & Roodman, Aaron. Is flat fielding safe for precision CCD astronomy?. United States. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/aa749f.
Baumer, Michael, Davis, Christopher P., and Roodman, Aaron. 2017. "Is flat fielding safe for precision CCD astronomy?". United States. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/aa749f. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1373200.
@article{osti_1373200,
title = {Is flat fielding safe for precision CCD astronomy?},
author = {Baumer, Michael and Davis, Christopher P. and Roodman, Aaron},
abstractNote = {The ambitious goals of precision cosmology with wide-field optical surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) demand precision CCD astronomy as their foundation. This in turn requires an understanding of previously uncharacterized sources of systematic error in CCD sensors, many of which manifest themselves as static effective variations in pixel area. Such variation renders a critical assumption behind the traditional procedure of flat fielding—that a sensor's pixels comprise a uniform grid—invalid. In this work, we present a method to infer a curl-free model of a sensor's underlying pixel grid from flat-field images, incorporating the superposition of all electrostatic sensor effects—both known and unknown—present in flat-field data. We use these pixel grid models to estimate the overall impact of sensor systematics on photometry, astrometry, and PSF shape measurements in a representative sensor from the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) and a prototype LSST sensor. Applying the method to DECam data recovers known significant sensor effects for which corrections are currently being developed within DES. For an LSST prototype CCD with pixel-response non-uniformity (PRNU) of 0.4%, we find the impact of "improper" flat fielding on these observables is negligible in nominal .7'' seeing conditions. Furthermore, these errors scale linearly with the PRNU, so for future LSST production sensors, which may have larger PRNU, our method provides a way to assess whether pixel-level calibration beyond flat fielding will be required.},
doi = {10.1088/1538-3873/aa749f},
journal = {Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific},
number = 978,
volume = 129,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {7}
}