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  1. ISR 2024-03: Rederivation of STIS Secondary Echelle Mode Traces

    June 10, 2024Matthew Siebert, TalaWanda Monroe, Svea Hernandez
    The STIS echelle gratings can be used with a variety of different central wavelength settings. “Secondary” wavelength settings, designed to cover select absorption or emission lines, have not been calibrated as precisely as their primary mode counterparts. In particular, secondary echelle mode traces (and subsequent extraction regions) have been previously defined using straight line fits to each spectral order. In this work, we define a new general method for defining echelle traces that utilizes Gaussian process regression and accounts for the detailed curvature of each order across the detector. Across a variety of echelle grating and central wavelength settings, we find that this method can improve flux throughput by ~4% especially near wavelengths located close to the edge of the detector. We have used this method to provide new traces and update reference files for 9 different echelle modes for both pre- and post-Servicing Mission 4 (SM4; in 2009) observations.
  2. ISR 2024-02: Recalibration of Pre-SM4 STIS Echelle Throughputs

    March 15, 2024Matthew Siebert, Joleen Carlberg, Svea Hernandez, TalaWanda Monroe
    Recent improvements to stellar atmospheric models have merited updated flux calibration for high priority STIS observing modes. Specifically, in the FUV and NUV, continuum differences of 1-3% are present between the newest models (CALSPECv11) and previous models (CALSPECv04-v07). As a result of these improvements the STIS team has derived updated sensitivity curves and blaze shift coefficients for a variety of echelle modes in order to meet targeted flux accuracies. The first series of echelle sensitivity updates primarily targeted post-Servicing Mission 4 (SM4; in 2009) observations. In this ISR, we investigate instead applying a simple scaling (derived from the ratio of new vs old CALSPEC model continua) to the previously determined throughputs of STIS echelle modes. This alternative approach has a straightforward implementation and provides reasonable accuracy, especially in cases where available calibration data are lacking (e.g., pre-SM4 era). Adopting this scaling approach, we delivered pre-SM4 throughput updates for 8 echelle modes, resulting in typical improvements of 0.5-2.4% across the FUV and NUV.
  3. ISR 2024-01: Safety Acquistions: Redundancy for non-repeatable multi-orbit STIS visits

    January 30, 2024Matthew M. Dallas & Matthew R. Siebert
    For observations of supernovae, kilonovae, tidal disruption events, and other non-repeatable observations, it is important the science data is taken successfully within a specific time window. Part of obtaining that data is often centering objects in the aperture to a higher accuracy than is available from Hubble Space Telescope’s (HST’s) blind pointing. On the HST Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) the sequence of exposures responsible for this centering is the target acquisition or STIS ACQ sequence, and it is most often placed only at the beginning of a visit. Unfortunately, STIS ACQ sequences will fail if the observatory experiences issues locating guide stars in time for the start of the required exposures. If the guide stars are located at a later point in the visit, the remaining science exposures can be taken but the pointing might not be as accurate as is required. This work discusses both the frequency of this issue and the feasibility of placing redundant or “safety” STIS ACQ sequences in a multi-orbit visit to regain the desired pointing accuracy in an affected visit. To do so we select a subset of all 113 STIS ACQ sequences from September 2018 to September 2023 which have experienced this issue. We find that this problem occurs in ∼5% of the total STIS ACQ sequences taken during that time period, with a recent increase in the rate to ∼9% from March to September 2023. Since the observatory goes through periods of better or worse pointing performance, this recent increased failure rate is not guaranteed to continue. For those failed visits which span multiple orbits, ∼39% never obtain a lock on the guide stars and thus take no data. Of the multi-orbit visits that do recover the guide stars, the majority (∼78%) do so before the beginning of science exposures in the second orbit. We also provide advice for users on how to make a risk assessment based on the analysis presented here.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
Last Updated: 06/02/2023


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