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A CCD is a 2-dimensional electronic detector. It has enormous attractions for astronomers: linearity, with dynamic ranges of 10000 being realized; photometric accuracy, better than 1 per cent; speed, with quantum efficiencies of up to 80 per cent; wide wavelength response, some devices being usable from the near UV (< 300 nm) to the near IR (> 1 m) and digital output, with data readily available in the computer. In addition, it is mechanically stable, extremely tough and difficult to damage by excess illumination. The main disadvantages of CCDs (as available at present at the INT) are the small size as compared to photographic plates or an IPCS, and the presence of readout noise, which renders it less suitable than an IPCS for the study of very faint or rapidly varying objects.
This section is a brief description of a CCD. Some useful references for further reading are:
ESO-OHP workshop on the Optimization of the Use of CCD detectors * in astronomy, eds. Baluteau, J.P. D'Odorico, S., 1986 * * Wall, J.V. Laing, R.A. User's Guide to the prime focus CCD camera on the INT * * Argyle, R.W., Mayer, C.J., Pike, C.D. Jorden, P.R. * User Guide to the JKT CCD camera, 1988. * * Jorden, P.R. Basic parameters of CCDs in use at La Palma, * La Palma Technical Note 55, revised September 1988