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Hubble Space Telescope
An Empirical Pixel-Based Correction for Imperfect CTE
I. HST's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ISR 10-03)

Instrument Science Report ACS 2010-03

Jay Anderson and Luigi Bedin


We use an empirical approach to characterize the effect of charge-transfer efficiency (CTE) losses in images taken with the Wide-Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The study is based on profiles of warm pixels in 168 dark exposures taken between 2009 September and October. The dark exposures allow us to explore charge traps that affect electrons when the background is extremely low. We develop a model for the readout process that reproduces the observed trails out to 70 pixels. We then invert the model to convert the observed pixel values in an image into an estimate of the original pixel values. We find that when we apply this image-restoration process to science images with a variety of stars on a variety of background levels, it restores flux, position, and shape. This means that the observed trails contain essentially all of the flux lost to inefficient CTE. The Space Telescope Science Institute is currently evaluating this algorithm with the aim of optimizing it and eventually providing enhanced data products. The empirical procedure presented here should also work for other epochs (e.g., pre-SM4), though the parameters may have to be recomputed for the time when ACS was operated at a higher temperature than the current -81°C. Finally, this empirical approach may also hold promise for other instruments, such as WFPC2, STIS, the ASC's HRC, and even WFC3/UVIS.

Published in: PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC, 122:1035-1064, 2010 September

The paper can be accessed from the ADS website.