A new method of CCD dark current correction via extracting the dark Information from scientific images
We have developed a new method to correct dark current at relatively high temperatures for Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) images when dark frames cannot be obtained on the telescope. For images taken with the Antarctic Survey Telescopes (AST3) in 2012, due to the low cooling efficiency, the median CCD temperature was -46°C, resulting in a high dark current level of about 3e-/pix/sec, even comparable to the sky brightness (10e-/pix/sec). If not corrected, the nonuniformity of the dark current could even overweight the photon noise of the sky background. However, dark frames could not be obtained during the observing season because the camera was operated in frame-transfer mode without a shutter, and the telescope was unattended in winter. Here we present an alternative, but simple and effective method to derive the dark current frame from the scientific images. Then we can scale this dark frame to the temperature at which the scientific images were taken, and apply the dark frame corrections to the scientific images. We have applied this method to the AST3 data, and demonstrated that it can reduce the noise to a level roughly as low as the photon noise of the sky brightness, solving the high noise problem and improving the photometric precision. This method will also be helpful for other projects that suffer from similar issues.