Subaru Telescope gains new imaging capability

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Hamamatsu Photonics, in conjunction with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), Osaka University, and Kyoto University, has developed CCD image sensors for use in the Hyper-Suprime Cam, an ultra-wide field of view prime focus camera installed in the Subaru Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Compared to the CCD image sensors used in the first generation Suprime-Cam, the new CCD image sensors additionally provide extended sensitivity in the near-infrared region and highly uniform product quality. Hamamatsu mass produced 116 of these large-area (3 x 6cm) back-illuminated deep-depletion CCD image sensors for this project.

The Subaru Telescope is an 8.2 metre optical-infrared telescope operated by the NAOJ. It is currently used for the Strategic Exploration of Exoplanets and Disks (SEEDS) project, among other studies. SEEDS is a five-year project focused on direct imaging of exoplanets, (planets orbiting stars outside of our Solar System), and disks around a targeted total of 500 stars.

The Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) is a digital still camera weighing around three tons. The camera’s sensor is a highly sensitive CCD with 870 megapixel resolution covering 1.5 degrees field of view. These CCDs are installed inside a vacuum cryogenic dewar and are operated at -100°C where the dark current becomes negligible.

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