HiPERCAM - the High Speed Camera
30 Apr 2018



A new, UK-built camera which can take over 1,000 images per second and will revolutionise our understanding of stars and black holes has now been fitted to the world’s largest optical telescope.


​​HiPERCAM mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias​


​HiPERCAM is a high-speed optical camera, which will enable astronomers to study objects in the universe that change rapidly, by taking over one thousand images per second in five different colours simultaneously.  The instrument will investigate targets such as the dead remnants of stars (white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes), solar system objects, and extrasolar planets.

The project, funded by a 3.5 MEuro European Research Council Advanced Grant, started in 2014 and is led by Professor Vik Dhillon and his team at the University of Sheffield in partnership with the UK ATC, Warwick University and Durham University.  The UK ATC's responsibilities include: the optical design; the CCD characterisation; the CCD readout control software; the instrument control software; the overall project management; and system integration and test. 

HiPERCAM uses custom-made 2Kx1K split-frame transfer CCDs manufactured by Teledyne E2V, Chelmsford, UK, each mounted in separate small camera heads and cooled to 180K by thermoelectric coolers.  The two reddest CCDs are deep-depletion devices with anti-etaloning, providing high quantum efficiencies across the optical spectrum with no fringing.  The readout system achieves over a thousand windows per second using controller electronics from ESO.

The instrument was delivered to the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope on La Palma on 5th October and completed its first commissioning and science run on 16th October with five nights allocated for this work.

In January 2018, it moved to the world's largest optical telescope, the 10.4m GTC on La Palma and following a short commissioning period will begin a full programme of science observations from May 2018. 

For further information, please click here to visit HiPERCAM's project webpage​.