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Published February 2016 | Submitted
Journal Article Open

An investigation of the Eigenvalue Calibration Method (ECM) using GASP for non-imaging and imaging detectors


Polarised light from astronomical targets can yield a wealth of information about their source radiation mechanisms, and about the geometry of the scattered light regions. Optical observations, of both the linear and circular polarisation components, have been impeded due to non-optimised instrumentation. The need for suitable observing conditions and the availability of luminous targets are also limiting factors. The science motivation of any instrument adds constraints to its operation such as high signal-to-noise (SNR) and detector readout speeds. These factors in particular lead to a wide range of sources that have yet to be observed. The Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP) has been specifically designed to make observations of these sources. GASP uses division of amplitude polarimeter (DOAP) (Compain and Drevillon Appl. Opt. 37, 5938–5944, 1998) to measure the four components of the Stokes vector (I, Q, U and V) simultaneously, which eliminates the constraints placed upon the need for moving parts during observation, and offers a real-time complete measurement of polarisation. Results from the GASP calibration are presented in this work for both a 1D detector system, and a pixel-by-pixel analysis on a 2D detector system. Following Compain et al. (Appl. Opt. 38, 3490–3502 1999) we use the Eigenvalue Calibration Method (ECM) to measure the polarimetric limitations of the instrument for each of the two systems. Consequently, the ECM is able to compensate for systematic errors introduced by the calibration optics, and it also accounts for all optical elements of the polarimeter in the output. Initial laboratory results of the ECM are presented, using APD detectors, where errors of 0.2 % and 0.1° were measured for the degree of linear polarisation (DOLP) and polarisation angle (PA) respectively. Channel-to-channel image registration is an important aspect of 2-D polarimetry. We present our calibration results of the measured Mueller matrix of each sample, used by the ECM, when 2 Andor iXon Ultra 897 detectors were loaned to the project. A set of Zenith flat-field images were recorded during an observing campaign at the Palomar 200 inch telescope in November 2012. From these we show the polarimetric errors from the spatial polarimetry indicating both the stability and absolute accuracy of GASP.

Additional Information

© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Received: 15 December 2014. Accepted: 26 May 2015. Published online: 29 August 2015.

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Submitted - 1509.05270v1.pdf


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