Volume 575, March 2015
|Number of page(s)
|18 February 2015
Evidence for self-interaction of charge distribution in charge-coupled devices
LPNHE, CNRS-IN2P3 and Universités Paris 6 & 7,
4 place Jussieu,
Paris Cedex 05,
2 Department of Physics, Harvard University, 17 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Received: 1 September 2014
Accepted: 19 December 2014
Charge-coupled devices (CCDs) are widely used in astronomy to carry out a variety of measurements, such as for flux or shape of astrophysical objects. The data reduction procedures almost always assume that the response of a given pixel to illumination is independent of the content of the neighboring pixels. We show evidence that this simple picture is not exact for several CCD sensors. Namely, we provide evidence that localized distributions of charges (resulting from star illumination or laboratory luminous spots) tend to broaden linearly with increasing brightness by up to a few percent over the whole dynamic range. We propose a physical explanation for this “brighter-fatter” effect, which implies that flatfields do not exactly follow Poisson statistics: the variance of flatfields grows less rapidly than their average, and neighboring pixels show covariances, which increase similarly to the square of the flatfield average. These covariances decay rapidly with pixel separation. We observe the expected departure from Poisson statistics of flatfields on CCD devices and show that the observed effects are compatible with Coulomb forces induced by stored charges that deflect forthcoming charges. We extract the strength of the deflections from the correlations of flatfield images and derive the evolution of star shapes with increasing flux. We show for three types of sensors that within statistical uncertainties, our proposed method properly bridges statistical properties of flatfields and the brighter-fatter effect.
Key words: instrumentation: detectors / methods: data analysis / techniques: photometric / astronomical databases: miscellaneous / telescopes / techniques: image processing
© ESO, 2015
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