The CCD detector

Sami Dib and Jean Surdej

2006 online edition and modifications by Stefan
Don’t forget to read the notes pages of each

1 Introduction
2 History of the CCD
3 How does a CCD work ?
4 Advantages of CCDs
5 The CCD as a 3 dimensional detector
6 Observations with a CCD

1 Introduction

It seems that Uranus was the
first celestial object to be
photographed by a CCD in
1975 by astronomers at the
JPL and University of
Arizona. This image has
been obtained by the 61
inch telescopes located at
Santa Catalina mountains
near Tucson (Arizona). It
has been made at the 8900
Å wavelength in the near
The dark region in the
image correspond to an
absorption region with some
Methane bands close to the
southern pole of Uranus.

Then the water content of the buckets is collected in other buckets on a vertical conveyor belt. a martian spacecraft ?) with the help of a CCD is pretty much similar to the measurements of the quantity of infalling rain on a farm. collecting buckets are displaced horizontally on conveyor belts. galaxy.2 History Determining the brilliance distribution of an astronomical object (star. . The overall content is sent onto a weighting system. planet. As soon as the rain stops.

the electrodes potentials are changed and charges transferred from one electrode to the other. (b) At the end of the exposure. .3 How does a CCD work ? (1) Pixel (a) Output register (b) To Output amplification Electrodes Electrons The way a CCD works is illustrated by means of a simplified CCD made of 9 pixels. Each pixel is divided in 3 regions (electrodes who serve to create a potential well). (a) when an exposure is made. an output register and an amplifier. the central electrode of each pixel is maintained at a higher potential (yellow) than the others ( green) and the charges collecting process takes place.

3 How does a CCD work ? (2) (a) (b) Impurity (doping) By changing in a synchronized way the potential of the electrodes. electrons are nsferred from pixel to pixel. one by one. to an output amplifier and then read one one. Charges on the right are guided to the output register The horizontal transfer of charges is then stopped and charge packages at the output ister are transferred vertically. The cycle starts again until all the charges have been read (reading time of about minute for a large CCD). .

4 Advantages of CCDs (1) 1) Good spatial resolution 2) Very high quantum efficiency 3) Large spectral window 4) Very low noise 5) Large variations in the signal strength allowed (high dynamic range) 6) High photometric precision 7) Very good linearity 8) A reliable rigidity .

containing each 2040 x 2048 pixels. . Arizona). This composite detector is about 6 cm large and contains a total of 16 millions pixels (Kitt Peak National Observatory.4 Advantages of CCDs (2) Spatial Resolution Mosaic of 4 CCDs.

We can see on this plot the large domain of wavelengths for the spectral response of CCDs.4 Advantages of CCDs (3) Quantum Efficiency Quantum efficiency curves of different types of CCDs as a function of the wavelength compared to the one of other detectors. .

no coating DD: deep depletion CCD .4 Advantages of CCDs (4) Spectral Range FI: front illuminated BN: back illuminated.

i. First of all there is a minimum exposure time below which no image of the object forms.4 Advantages of CCDs (5) Linearity and Dynamic Range Dynamic range = ratio between brightest and faintest detectable signal CCDs are extremely linear detectors. At some higher degree of exposure. the image gets quickly saturated (S-shape gamma curve).e the received signal increase linearly with the exposure time. The dynamic range of CCDs is about 100 times larger compared to Film. In contrast photographic plates have a very limited linear regime. . The CCD thus enables the simultaneous detection of very faint objects and bright objects.

4 Advantages of CCDs (6) Flatfields (a) (b) “flat field” technique (see text below) (c) .

100 and 1000 sec. obtained with a 11 inches Celestron telescope.5 The CCD as a 3 dimensional detector 6 Observations with a CCD As can be seen from this series of 4 exposures ( figures above + next page ) of 1. of the M100 galaxy. the signal to noise ratio changes in a crucial way as a function of the exposure time . 10.

6 Observations with a CCD (1) Additionally to the improvement of the S/B ratio as a function of the exposure time. and to the photons noise in the sky for the longest exposure. we can also clearly see the change in the regime of the noise. mainly caused by the readout noise of the CCD in the shorter exposure. .

. .1 Subtraction of the bias Processed image Raw image .6 Observations with a CCD (2) 6..

T0) / T t.2 The darks (1) Sn(t) = Rn0 2(T .2.1) . (6.6 Observations with a CCD (3) 6.

2.2) ST / BT = (S / B) N .2.4) S / B = (Sa . (6.5) .6 Observations with a CCD (4) 6.ST et B = (Ba2 + BT2).2. (6.2 The darks (2) ST = N S et BT2 = (N B2).3) S = Sa .ST) / (Ba2 + BT2).2. (6. (6.

2) .3 The flat field technique S = So / Sf.3. (6. (6.1) (S/B) = 1 / [(Bo/So)2 + (Bf/Sf)2].3.6 Observations with a CCD (5) 6.

6 Observations with a CCD (6) 6. and the dark image (below) (see also next page).3 The flat field technique (1) Raw image (left) from which we substract the Bias image (right) ... .

6 Observations with a CCD (7) 6. .3 The flat field technique (2) We then divide the obtained result by the flat field image (above) and obtain The final image (right).

4 Cosmic rays The impact of many cosmic rays are visible on this dark image .6 Observations with a CCD (8) 6.

(6.5...3) S/B = (So + Sn + Sc) /  Bo2 + Bn2 + y2 + Bc2.4) .5.1) (6. (6. (6..5. S = So + Sn + Sc.2) B2 = Bo2 + Bn2 + y2 + Bc2.6 Observations with a CCD (9) 6.5 Improving the Signal to Noise (S/B) ratio of astronomical observations B = B12 + B22 + B32 + .5.

5 Improving the S/B ratio of astronomical observations S/B = (So + Sn + Sc) /  So + Sn + Sc + y2.6 Observations with a CCD (10) 1.7) .5.5. (6.5. (6.6) (6. . S/B = Co.6.5) S/B = Co / 1 + Cc / Co + n y2 / Co.

9) .5. S1/B1 = (N Si) (6.5. S2/B2 = (N Si).5 Improving the S/B ratio of astronomical observations S1 = Si = N Si.6 Observations with a CCD (11) 6. B1 = (Si) = (N Si). B2 = S2.8) S2 = N Si. (6.

11) S1/B1 = S2/B2 (Si / y)  S2/B2.Observations with a CCD (12) 1.5.12) .5 Improving the S/B ratio of astronomical observations S1 = Si = N Si.5. (6.6.5. (6. S1/B1 = (N Si)(Si /y) (6. S2/B2 = (N Si).10) S2 = N Si. B1 = ((Si + y2))  (N y2). B2 = S2.

6 Observations with a CCD (13) B2 = So + Sn + Sc + y2.6 Determination of the gain and the read out noise of a CCD g  Nmax / 216. (6.2) (6.6. B2ADU = SADU / g + BDL2.3) . (6.

6 Determination of the gain (and read out noise) of a CCD with the photon-transfer method Linear slope = CCD gain in units of e-/ADU .6 Observations with a CCD (14) 6.

6 Observations with a CCD (15) 6. (6. (6.4) f2 = (f2 / 2) (f1/f2)2.6 Determination of the gain and read out noise of a CCD (f1 / f2) / f1/f2 2 = 1 / (f1/f1)2 + (f2/f2)2  1 /  2(f/f)2.6.5) .6.

6 Observations with a CCD (16) CCD image of Arp 188 and the Tadpole's Tidal Tail taken with Hubble’s ACS camera. .