Accurate Photometry of Saturated Stars Using the Point-spread-function Wing Technique with Spitzer

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4 Scopus citations


We report Spitzer 3.6 and 4.5 μm photometry of 11 bright stars relative to Sirius, exploiting the unique optical stability of the Spitzer Space Telescope point-spread function (PSF). Spitzer's extremely stable beryllium optics in its isothermal environment enables precise comparisons in the wings of the PSF from heavily saturated stars. These bright stars stand as the primary sample to improve stellar models, and to transfer the absolute flux calibration of bright standard stars to a sample of fainter standards useful for missions like JWST and for large ground-based telescopes. We demonstrate that better than 1% relative photometry can be achieved using the PSF wing technique in the radial range of 20″-100″ for stars that are fainter than Sirius by 8 mag (from outside the saturated core to a large radius where a high signal-to-noise ratio profile can still be obtained). We test our results by (1) comparing the [3.6]-[4.5] color with that expected between the WISE W1 and W2 bands, (2) comparing with stars where there is accurate K S photometry, and (3) also comparing with relative fluxes obtained with the DIRBE instrument on COBE. These tests confirm that relative photometry is achieved to better than 1%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number46
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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