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ISR 2022-07: Update of the STIS CTE Correction Formula for Stellar Spectra

October 25, 2022R. C. Bohlin and S. Lockwood
The correction formula for Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE) that is used in the HSTCAL CALSTIS pipeline CCD data reduction has not been significantly updated since 2006. Correcting for CTE losses is crucial to the goal of 1% precision in the STIS spectrophotometric fluxes that are the basis for all HST and JWST flux calibrations. Precision in the CTE correction is especially relevant for the faintest flux standards, where the amount of correction can exceed 20%. The comparison of new datasets of STIS spectra and ACS photometry of faint stars reveals the required updates to the parameters of the STIS CTE correction formula. After replacing the original with the new parameters, the change in the spectral energy distribution (SED), i.e. the flux decrease in physical units, for a very faint star NGC2506-G31 ranges from 4 to 6% over most of the G430L and G750L spectral wavelength ranges. No observations of the faint stars with G230LB or the medium dispersion modes were made; but the CTE correction depends only on signal level and should apply to all CCD spectroscopic modes. With the new formulation for the STIS CTE correction the STIS, ACS, and WFC3 flux measures are in accord at the 1% level, not only for the primary standards and other stars in the neighborhood of V=13 and brighter, but also now for fainter stars in the V=16 range.

ISR 2022-05: Scattered Light in STIS Grating G230LB

October 04, 2022G. Worthey, T. Pal, I. Khan, X. Shi, R. C. Bohlin
The G230LB grating used with STIS's CCD detector scatters red light. In red objects, the scattered light mingles with the ultraviolet signal, causing spurious short-wavelength flux and weakening absorption features. Recent calibration observations characterize the scattered light using duplicate observations with the MAMA detector and similar grating G230L. The full two-dimensional spectrum contains little helpful information to mitigate the scattered light problem. For one-dimensional, extracted spectra, the scattered light can be approximately modeled as a ramped pedestal whose amplitude is proportional to the object's V-band flux. We present formulae for scattered light corrections. For stars warmer than G0 spectral type, correction is superfluous. Off-slit-center positioning appears not to affect the properties of the scattered light. Therefore, we are able to extrapolate correction formulae for extended objects from the point source formulae. Polynomials for flux corrections due to off-center slit positioning in the 0.2 arcsec slit are also tabulated.

ISR 2022-06: Flux Repeatability of FUV-MAMA Spectra as a Function of Cross-dispersion Position

September 30, 2022L. Dos Santos
The data reduction of STIS raw spectra was originally designed to apply three different flat fields: pixel-to-pixel level corrections (P-flats), low-frequency corrections in scales of tens of pixels (L-flats), and time variability corrections (D-flats). However, in the case of FUV-MAMA, the L-flat reference file currently only corrects for vignetting of the G140L mode and no other low-frequency corrections are applied. In this document, we analyze calibration data obtained in Cycle 28 across the detector to test whether any uncorrected low spatial frequency variations exceed the accuracy specifications of the instrument. We find that the FUV-MAMA fluxes are mostly repeatable at different cross-dispersion positions in the detector, with the exception of G140M centered at 1567 A ̊ . We also provide recommendations of when (or ever) users should request disabling monthly offsets, which is an available but unsupported mode starting in Cycle 30.

ISR 2022-04: Recalibration of the STIS E140M Sensitivity Curve

May 19, 2022J. Carlberg, T. Monroe, A. Riley, S. Hernandez
In 2012, the blaze function shapes (normalized sensitivity as a function of wavelength) of E140M’s spectral orders began exhibiting changes that could not be accounted for with simple blaze shift coefficients in the PHOTTAB reference files. In February 2018, a special calibration program observed the HST standard star G191B2B in order to recharacterize the E140M blaze function shape and obtain a snapshot of the current sensitivity order-by-order. To best characterize the evolving shape changes across all post Servicing Mission 4 (post-SM4) data, 3 new PHOTTAB files and 2 new RIPTAB files were delivered in 2020. One pair of PHOTTAB and RIPTAB files correspond to the new blaze shape and associated blaze shift coefficients and are applied to data taken after July 01, 2016. The second RIPTAB file is associated with 2 PHOTTAB files that contain a rederivation of the original post-SM4 blaze shapes (covering data taken May 11, 2009 through July 01, 2016), with two different sets of blaze shift coefficients covering data taken before and after July 01, 2012. Two sets of blaze coefficients were needed to better calibrate the data where the shape was most actively evolving. As a side consequence of this work, spectral order 86 is newly flux calibrated for all post-SM4 data. These new sensitivity derivations benefited from the availability of new line blanketed model atmospheres of G191B2B that allowed a more robust identification of the stellar continuum in the observed data. These line blanketed models also predict continuum fluxes in the E140M bandpass that differ by a few percent relative to pure hydrogen models, and they became the new flux standard for the Hubble Space Telescope soon after the 2020 reference file delivery. Thus, all five reference files were redelivered in 2022 based on the new underlying flux model. While this ISR primarily describes the work and methods implemented for the 2020 new sensitivity curve derivations, it also describes both the blaze shift updates prior to 2018 that motivated the new observations, as well as the more recent update to the new CALSPEC v11 standard.

ISR 2022-03: Comparison of STIS CCD CTI Corrections on Photometry

May 12, 2022L. Prichard
The STIS CCD detector suffers from charge transfer inefficiency (CTI) which can be corrected for using a pixel-based or empirical flux correction (CTI = 1− CTE). Here we present a comparison of these two CTI correction methods and compare these to the magnitudes derived from non-CTI corrected CCD images. We use data spanning 2010 to 2022 and derive photometry for the same sources for each CTI method to compare the magnitudes. We explore the absolute differences between the CTI corrected magnitudes, and their spatial, time and magnitude dependence. The offsets are smallest for the brightest stars and deviate further from zero with increasing magnitude (< 18 mag: 0.020 mag, 0.12%; 18–19 mag: 0.037 mag, 0.20%; 19–22 mag: −0.084 mag, −0.35%). Stars brighter than 19 mag are marginally over-corrected with both CTI methods. Stars fainter than 19 mag are slightly under-corrected by the pixel-based CTI method and slightly over-corrected with the empirical flux CTI method. Generally, we find that the offsets between the codes are small (< 1%), consistent with past results, and well within the quoted ∼ 5% STIS photometric errors.

ISR 2022-02: STIS CCD & MAMA Full-field Sensitivity & its Time Dependence

April 28, 2022L. Prichard
The three detectors on STIS, one CCD and two MAMAs, are subject to time-dependent sensitivity (TDS) changes on both short- and long-timescales. These variations are corrected for in the STIS calibration pipeline CALSTIS with TDS models derived from spectroscopic data. In this analysis, we measure residual TDS trends in the data after these corrections are applied. We update the analysis presented in STIS ISR 2013-02 (using data from 1997 to 2012) with the goal of tracking the efficacy of these TDS corrections for data taken up to 2022. We measure aperture photometry of sources in standard stellar fields (NGC 5139 for the CCD, NGC 6681 for the MAMAs) and derive magnitude trends for each star with time. We then determine overall residual TDS effects for each detector, and by filter for the NUV and FUV MAMAs (with data in three filters each). We find roughly consistent results to those from STIS ISR 2013-02 measured over the same time period, that show magnitude trends are within the ~1% STIS flux calibration accuracy. We observe stronger negative magnitude trends (i.e., sources appearing brighter with time) when including more recent data. This implies that the TDS models are over correcting the data which could mean that the loss of imaging sensitivity is slowing at a more rapid rate than the spectroscopic TDS models predict, as determined independently for all three STIS detectors. We also measure point spread functions for each image and find no significant trends in their full-width-half-max values with time for any detector.

ISR 2022-01: Long-Term Rotational Evolution of the STIS CCD Flatfields

March 18, 2022K. Ward-Duong, S. Lockwood, J. Debes, R. J. De Rosa
We confirm a long-term rotational drift of 0.0031 degrees/year of the STIS CCD based upon analysis of 50CCD flatfields spanning over 20 years of calibration data. Using the dust motes present in the flatfields, we extract the positions of the motes in each image, allowing us to develop a catalog of stable, high ‘signal-to-noise’ mote features and track their relative positions over time. We find that the motes appear to be moving at the aforementioned rate relative to an approximate center of rotation located at X=468.02, Y=411.18 in detector pixel coordinates. Given the relatively large errors in centroiding the unusually-shaped and often asymmetric motes, we perform an MCMC slope-fitting analysis to derive an uncertainty on the rotation of ±0.0001 degrees/year. Our derived rotation rate value is similar to two previous complementary CCD analyses: a measurement of spectral trace rotation in the grating L modes, and a time-dependent offset in detector true north position angle relative to the FITS header orientation keyword in science images. We therefore recommend that archival and future STIS CCD images should have their header information updated accordingly to account for this rotational drift. We also suggest similar corrections for rotational effects with respect to the reference files for spectral traces.

ISR 2021-02: STIS MAMAs: Checking for Gain Sag

June 03, 2021M. Maclay
We present results from several tests to determine the existence and extent of gain sag in the HST/STIS MAMA detectors. By comparing the flat field response of detector regions that have experienced 2 sigma above the median cumulative count values to detector regions that have experienced the median, we aim to resolve any correlation between regional detector sensitivity and total number of counts. Additionally, we discuss fold test analysis results and discuss the ability of the fold test to detect problem pixels. We find no evidence that either the FUV or NUV MAMA detectors are experiencing global or local gain sag. We recommend further in-depth, cycle-by-cycle analysis of the flats.

ISR 2021-01: Testing the Defringing Tool Suite on the Time Dependent Sensitivity Data

February 09, 2021S. Hernandez
STIS CCD spectroscopic observations taken with gratings G750L or G750M are strongly impacted by fringing at wavelengths>7500A ̊. The STIS team recently ported the original IRAF/PyRAF defringing tools to the stistools Python package, which include four essential tools to correct for this effect: normspflat, prepspec, mkfringeflat, and defringe. In this ISR we describe the testing done on the new stistools.defringe package. We re-analyze the G750M and G750L spectroscopic observations taken as part of the calibration programs for the STIS CCD Spectroscopic Sensitivity Monitor, and perform a full time dependent sensitivity (TDS) analysis on fringed and defringed observations. A comparison of the TDS results from the fringed and defringed observations shows that the calculated sensitivity slopes are identical for wavelengths <7500 A ̊. At longer wavelengths we find that the defringed data provide slightly different slopes than the fringed observations, however, these values are always within the uncertainties. Overall, we show that the defringing tools successfully improve the quality of the science spectrum, removing these interference features from both G750M and G750L exposures.

ISR 2019-04: The Impact of Spacecraft Jitter on STIS Coronagraphy

December 03, 2019J. Debes, J. Anderson, M. Wenz, J. Stock
Between 21-April 2018 and 5-October 2018, the combination of gyroscopes 2,4, and 6 resulted in a higher than normal spacecraft jitter that exceeded 15 mas in amplitude, with larger excursions possible. This amplitude of jitter was predicted to present noticeable degradation to the contrast performance of the STIS coronagraphic apertures and thus a special calibration program was executed on 23-September 2018 to assess the impact. We find that higher levels of jitter increase a systematic component to the noise within a set of coronagraphic images, impacting contrast performance. We review our current recommendations on when jitter reaches a level that could impact specific scientific cases.

ISR 2019-03: Pushing the Limits of the Coronagraphic Occulters on STIS

July 02, 2019J. Debes, B. Ren, G. Schneider
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) contains the only currently operating coronagraph in space that is not trained on the Sun. In an era of extreme-adaptive-optics-fed coronagraphs, and with the possibility of future space-based coronagraphs, we re-evaluate the contrast performance of the STIS CCD camera. The 50CORON aperture consists of a series of occulting wedges and bars, including the recently commissioned BAR5 occulter. We discuss the latest procedures in obtaining high-contrast imaging of circumstellar disks and faint point sources with STIS. For the first time, we develop a noise model for the coronagraph, including systematic noise due to speckles, which can be used to predict the performance of future coronagraphic observations. Further, we present results from a recent calibration program that demonstrates better than 1e−6 point-source contrast at 0.6′′, ranging to 3e−5 point-source contrast at 0.25′′. These results are obtained by a combination of subpixel grid dithers, multiple spacecraft orientations, and postprocessing techniques. Some of these same techniques will be employed by future space-based corona- graphic missions. We discuss the unique aspects of STIS coronagraphy relative to ground-based adaptive-optics-fed coronagraphs.

ISR 2019-02: Identifying Jitter Induced CCD CR-SPLIT Combination Errors

June 21, 2019Joleen K. Carlberg
By default, all STIS CCD exposures are split into a minimum of two subexposures to allow for cosmic ray removal. An underlying assumption of the cosmic ray removal algorithm is that the subexposures are well-registered. This assumption breaks down if the target wanders too much in the spectroscopic slit during the observation due to telescope jitter, particularly if the jitter occurs predominantly in one subexposure. In such cases, the algorithm may reject large fractions of valid data, leading to systematically underestimated flux, even for wide slit widths where slit losses from the jitter are negligible. Such datasets may or may not present with unusual line profiles. In this work, we present a technique for using the cosmic ray data quality flags to identify potentially problematic spectra and demonstrate its effectiveness in flagging observations of standard stars with apparent 5-15% flux losses.

ISR 2019-01: A New Method to Monitor the HST/STIS Focus

May 24, 2019M. Maclay
We present results from a new, empirical, Normalized Halo Method of STIS/CCD focus measurement relying on direct measurements of real and simulated point spread functions (PSFs). We evaluate the eligibility of this method to be employed as a focus monitor by comparison to phase retrieval results from STIS/CCD and WFC3/UVIS. Through the application and comparison of phase retrieval and the Normalized Halo Method to STIS/CCD F28X50OII observations, we find an absolute constant offset of approximately 3 μm secondary mirror despace and relative precision and consistency between the two methods. We determine the Normalized Halo Method to be effective, suitable for implementation as a STIS focus monitor, and a precise proxy of historical and current STIS phase retrieval measurements.

ISR 2018-07: STIS Bright Object Protection for Available-But-Unsupported Modes

December 08, 2018J. Carlberg
In this Instrument Science Report, we describe techniques for determining the safety of proposed observations using the STIS FUV- or NUV-MAMA for spectral settings or apertures that are available, but unsupported. Such modes may not be selectable in APT using the BOT tool or in the exposure time calculator. These observations can be cleared if a supported mode can be identified that is guaranteed to estimate comparable or higher count rates than the proposed setup. Observations clearing the BOT with the related supported mode would thus be safe in the proposed unsupported mode. A practical example of the described techniques are presented for clearing a planetary nebula observation (the topic of a recent a Cycle 25 SNAP program), which also lead to the inclusion of a new planetary nebula template for the exposure time calculator.

ISR 2018-06: Impacts of focus on aspects of STIS UV Spectroscopy

November 05, 2018A. Riley, T. Monroe, S. Lockwood
The STIS Instrument focus has been drifting more and more positive over time since the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA) was shifted in 2011. Unfortunately, the STIS best focus was found to be at more negative focus values relative to HST observatory focus. However, this slight upward trend in focus is still smaller than the orbital variation in focus that is seen due to the thermal evolution of the telescope. Both the upward trend and the change in focus due to the orbital variation come into play and this is why sometimes the absolute focus is closer to STIS best focus than at other times. When the absolute focus is not close to STIS best focus, some spectroscopic data has been observed to have larger FWHM values and more spatially dispersed profiles, causing flux anomalies in data. This document discusses these flux anomalies and outlines analysis done to determine whether the Enclosed Energy (EE) tables contained in the HST Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) or the Photometric Conversion Table (PCTAB) have changed. We also discuss what the user community might expect to see in their data due to the changing focus of STIS.
LAST UPDATED: 11/08/2022

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