The use and calibration of read-out streaks to increase the dynamic range of the swift ultraviolet/optical telescope

M. J. Page, N. P.M. Kuin, A. A. Breeveld, B. Hancock, S. T. Holland, F. E. Marshall, S. Oates, P. W.A. Roming, M. H. Siegel, P. J. Smith, M. Carter, M. De Pasquale, M. Symeonidis, V. Yershov, A. P. Beardmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The dynamic range of photon counting micro-channel-plate (MCP) intensified chargedcoupled device (CCD) instruments such as the Swift Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) and the XMM-Newton Optical Monitor (XMM-OM) is limited at the bright end by coincidence loss, the superposition of multiple photons in the individual frames recorded by the CCD. Photons which arrive during the brief period in which the image frame is transferred for read out of the CCD are displaced in the transfer direction in the recorded images. For sufficiently bright sources, these displaced counts form read-out streaks. Using UVOT observations of Tycho-2 stars, we investigate the use of these read-out streaks to obtain photometry for sources which are too bright (and hence have too much coincidence loss) for normal aperture photometry to be reliable. For read-out-streak photometry, the bright-source limiting factor is coincidence loss within the MCPs rather than the CCD. We find that photometric measurements can be obtained for stars up to 2.4 mag brighter than the usual full-frame coincidence-loss limit by using the read-out streaks. The resulting bright-limit Vega magnitudes in the UVOT passbands are UVW2 = 8.80, UVM2 = 8.27, UVW1 = 8.86, u = 9.76, b = 10.53, v = 9.31 and White = 11.71; these limits are independent of the windowing mode of the camera. We find that a photometric precision of 0.1 mag can be achieved through read-out streak measurements. A suitable method for the measurement of read-out streaks is described and all necessary calibration factors are given.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1684-1693
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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