Article

Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 157-170

OPTIMA: A Photon Counting High-Speed Photometer

  • C. StraubmeierAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische PhysikI. Physikalisches Institut, University of Cologne
  • , G. KanbachAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik
  • , F. SchreyAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik

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Abstract

OPTIMA is a small, versatile high-speed photometer which is primarily intended for time resolved observations of young high energy pulsars at optical wavelengths. The detector system consists of eight fiber fed photon counters based on avalanche photodiodes, a GPS timing receiver, an integrating CCD camera to ensure the correct pointing of the telescope and a computerized control unit. Since January 1999 OPTIMA proves its scientific potential by measuring a very detailed light-curve of the Crab Pulsar as well as by observing cataclysmic variable stars on very short timescales. In this article we describe the design of the detector system focussing on the photon counting units and the software control which correlates the detected photons with the GPS timing signal.

high-speed photometer photon counting GPS timing software hardware