A low-cost chopping system and uncooled microbolometer array for ground-based astronomy

Rashman, M. F.; Steele, I. A.; Bates, S. D.; Knapen, J. H.
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Experimental Astronomy

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Mid-Infrared imaging is vital for the study of a wide variety of astronomical phenomena, including evolved stars, exoplanets, and dust enshrouded processes such as star formation in galaxies. However, infrared detectors have traditionally been expensive and it is difficult to achieve the sensitivity needed to see beyond the overwhelming mid-infrared background. Here we describe the upgrade and commissioning of a simple prototype, low-cost 10 μ m imaging instrument. The system was built using commercially available components including an uncooled microbolometer focal plane array and chopping system. The system was deployed for a week on the 1.52 m Carlos Sanchez Telescope and used to observe several very bright mid-infrared sources with catalogue fluxes down to ∼600 Jy. We report a sensitivity improvement of ∼4 mag over our previous unchopped observations, in line with our earlier predictions.
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