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ING web news release
2 November, 2017

HiPERCAM Successfully Commissioned on the William Herschel Telescope

HiPERCAM was successfully commissioned on the William Herschel Telescope (WHT) on 17 October 2017 by a team from the Universities of Sheffield, Warwick and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh. HiPERCAM was designed as a next generation version of ULTRACAM.

The latter instrument was used at the WHT from 2002 to 2015, and is now permanently located at the ESO NTT, where it continues to do science. HiPERCAM, on the other hand, will be based on La Palma, and moved between the WHT and GTC. The instrument is funded by a 3.5Meuro ERC Advanced Grant awarded to Vik Dhillon and will be commissioned on the GTC in January 2018.


The HiPERCAM commissioning team next to the instrument at the Cassegrain focus of the WHT. From left to right: Stuart Littlefair (Sheffield), Tom Marsh (Warwick), Simon Dixon, Steven Parsons, Trevor Gamble, Vik Dhillon, Paul Kerry (Sheffield), Naidu Bezawada (UKATC). Large format: PNG.

Close-up of HiPERCAM mounted at the Cassegrain focus of the WHT. The instrument is approximately 1.4m long and weighs 220kg. Large format: JPEG.

First light with HiPERCAM - the spiral galaxy NGC 7331. Large format: JPEG.

HiPERCAM is a very significant advance on ULTRACAM. It is able to image simultaneously in 5 channels (ugriz), rather than the 3 channels of ULTRACAM, and uses much higher throughput, larger optics than ULTRACAM, doubling the field of view to 10' and hence providing brighter comparison stars for differential photometry.

HiPERCAM can frame at (windowed) rates of 1.7kHz, rather than the maximum of 300Hz available with ULTRACAM. HiPERCAM uses detectors cooled to 180K (ULTRACAM's are only cooled to 233K), with deep-depletion CCDs in the red channels, each equipped with anti-etaloning, resulting in much lower dark current, higher quantum efficiency and lower fringing than ULTRACAM. Hence, as well as high-speed work, HiPERCAM is ideal for scientific applications requiring deep, single-shot spectral-energy distributions.

HiPERCAM will also be the first instrument to incorporate a novel scintillation-noise correction technique, known as conjugate-plane photometry, significantly reducing noise in light curves of bright objects such as transiting exoplanet host stars.


More information:

HiPERCAM web site.



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Last modified: 02 November 2017