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Astron. Astrophys. 346, L30-L32 (1999)

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Letter to the Editor

Optical STJ observations of the Crab Pulsar

M.A.C. Perryman, F. Favata, A. Peacock, N. Rando and B.G. Taylor

Astrophysics Division, Space Science Department of ESA, ESTEC, Postbus 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Received 19 April 1999 / Accepted 3 May 1999


We report the first observations of an astronomical object using a superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) device, a pixel detector with intrinsic energy resolution in the optical wavelength range. The Crab pulsar was observed using a [FORMULA] array of Tantalum STJs at the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope on La Palma. Each array element provides photon counting capability recording up to [FORMULA] photons pix-1 s-1 with an arrival time accuracy of about 5 µs, and providing a wavelength resolution of about 100 nm. We derive a photometrically resolved light curve which, however, shows no significant colour index variations with pulsar phase.

Key words: instrumentation: detectors – stars: pulsars: individual: Crab

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: May 21, 1999