The Far Ultraviolet detector of the Cosmic Origin Spectrograph (COS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is subject to distortions on a range of spatial scales in its two-dimensional format due to its analog nature. Incomplete correction of these effects can lead to errors in wavelength scales and flux measurements in the calibrated spectra. Two of the largest sources of error are geometric distortion and walk. Although they are accounted for separately in the CalCOS calibration pipeline, they are highly coupled and can be considered as manifestations of the same effect.
The current calibration pipeline does not apply any walk correction in the dispersion direction even though walk-induced errors can be more than a resolution element in some cases. The current geometric correction, which was derived without considering walk effects, is also known to have inaccuracies. As part of our efforts to improve the wavelength calibration of COS, we have revisited the existing walk and geometric correction using both prelaunch and on-orbit data.
The Far Ultraviolet (FUV) detector on the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is subject to a variety of distortions due to its analog nature. Thermal variations of the detector and electronics stretch and shift the active area. Geometric distortions on a range of spatial scales warp the two-dimensional spectral image. Changes due to detector walk – the dependence of detected position on pulse height – add distortions that change as a function of time. The calcos calibration pipeline includes corrections for each of these effects in the calibrated spectra, but these are imperfect, and they do not help with the target acquisition process, which uses raw detector coordinates. We discuss these distortions and their effect on the data, our attempts to mitigate them, the current pipeline corrections and their success at removing the effects, and possible modifications to improve the data quality in the future.