CanariCam Mid-infrared Drift Scanning: Improved Sensitivity and Spatial Resolution

Torres-Quijano, Amílcar R.; Packham, Christopher; Fernandez Acosta, Sergio
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Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

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Ground-based mid-infrared (MIR) astronomical observations require the removal of the fast time variable components of (a) sky/background variation and (b) array background. Typically, this has been achieved through oscillating the telescope's secondary mirror a few times a second, a process termed "chopping." However, chopping reduces on-object photon collection time, imposes stringent demands on the secondary mirror, requires nodding of the telescope to remove the radiative offset imprinted by the chopping, and relies on an often-fixed chop-frequency regardless of the sky conditions in the actual observations. In the 30 m telescope era, secondary mirror chopping is impracticable. However, if the sky and background are sufficiently stable, drift scanning holds the promise to remove the necessity of chopping. In this paper, we report our encouraging drift scanning results using the CanariCam MIR instrument on the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias and the implications to future instruments and experiments.