domingo, junho 28, 2015


My 'newbie' recipe for finding celestial objects. Overlap all Pluto and Charon images (see previous post) so that Pluto is in the center. Use a rough estimate of Pluto's size (from the number of pixels it occupies in each image) to resize the images. Violet/blue indicates older images, red and white the most recent ones. Plot only the pixels with values above a certain threshold (removing the average background noise first). Trails appear. Satellites, background stars, artefacts of the crude processing? How many, 5, 6? Imagine... (Click on the image for more detail.)

Addendum (29/6/2015): the next step would be to get rid of those fluctuations when resizing the images... Without them, I expect (or imagine...) that the orbit of Charon around Pluto would more closely follow the ellipse seen above and fluctuations in the trails would also be greatly reduced, rendering curvilinear trajectories. One can see some scattered points deviating from those lines, with colors matching the gaps in the trails... they probably belong to those trails but were displaced due to errors in the resizing of individual images. If the trails were due to background stars, would they converge to Pluto? Probably not... Note that the image above was created without knowing anything special about the images: everything was mainly image-driven. With more information, finer analysis will probably lead to more precision, detecting smaller objects.

Why do those trails end abruptly, e.g., when reaching the red colors (meaning more recent images)? Well, probably that is due to the object moving outside the individual image, as New Horizons approaches Pluto...

Addendum 2 (30/6/2015): Please do not think that this is a serious analysis of the problem! I do not know many details about the data, and that is crucial to do a proper analysis. Besides, there are many experts in the field that are analysing this using the proper tools and information. My main goal was, besides trying to satisfy my curiosity, to try to help by suggesting an eventually different approach that could spark a good idea in someone else...

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