Astronomy, Photography and Weather

General Category => Astronomy & Space => Topic started by: markt on January 11, 2011, 11:18:09 pm

Title: (596) Scheila - The Shot I Wanted!
Post by: markt on January 11, 2011, 11:18:09 pm
When I was imaging using the Faulkes Telescope in Hawaii of the asteroid (596) Scheila on the 3rd January - I posted that animation last week - Hawaii was plagued with high cloud.  As a result while my images clearly showed the motion of Scheila across the heavens it unfortunately did not reveal the coma as the result of impact with another asteroid back in early december. 

Well, on the 4th of Jan I woke up to find my laptop had well and truly died on me, so ended up using a desktop at work to get another imaging run on Scheila.  I've only just got the 'mended' laptop back, but it had to be wiped - fortunately I always back up so no loss of data, more just an inconvenience.  After a fair old while loading on software and downloading software I was finally ready to take a proper look at the data I got off Faulkes.

I knew the data was better just from the preview images i'd got so started to chew through them...  First off another animation showing the blighter racing across the sky - this is 1/2 hour worth of movement.  (sorry about large files!)


Next off I set about stacking the images I had in Deep Sky Stacker to tease out as much information as I could to try and reveal that elusive coma.  Whilst it's diffuse and faint it's definitely there  ;D


The coma is alot fainter than it was it was early in december

All good fun!  The next target we have is X-ray binaries.

Mark :)

Title: Re: (596) Scheila - The Shot I Wanted!
Post by: martinastro on January 12, 2011, 05:20:51 pm
Excellent work Mark and well done on choosing this fascinating target, time very well spent indeed. Great animation showing the motion/rotation and nice job on bringing out that tenous coma  :).  Would have been great to have seen this on stargazing live.

Scary if you look at the animation and imagine that this is a discovered NEO which was going to hit Earth in two weeks time  :)

Title: Re: (596) Scheila - The Shot I Wanted!
Post by: markt on January 12, 2011, 06:05:40 pm
Thanks Dennis and Martin for your kind words!

The GCSE astronomy group have taken on a real fascination with asteroids of late after seeing these animations - it's the fact you can see how much they move over a certain period of time, they always want to know how big they are, how fast they are moving, how far away they are - the list goes on, and like you say Martin, always the questions arise - will it hit earth, could it hit earth... 

Regards X-ray binaries - we are observing an object called 4U0614+091 (glamorous name eh!), there's not a huge amount of information on it tbh - if you google it then you just get a load of abstracts from scientific papers.  However, as I understand it there are a pair of neutron stars which orbit each other every 51 minutes(!!!!!)and, at xray wavelengths show variability in terms of brightness, however the boffins suggest that this type of object also displays variability in optical wavelengths at short time scales, and the plan is to try and capture this. 

This is an international project and the plan is to observe the object continuouslly for 48 hours.  As well as FTN and FTS, the telescopes involved are the IAC80 (Spain), the Kryoneri Telescope (Greece), the McDonald and Apache Point Telescopes in the USA, the Kanata and Araki Telescopes (Japan) and the Hanle and Nainital Telescopes (India).

My plan is to use the data from the Faulkes telescopes and put together an animation as above showing the object over several hours, fingers crossed I can show some variability in brightness if it exists / is detected.  The SALSAJ software that I use for the FT images allows me to make a proper photometric measurement, so i'm hoping I can use this information to produce a light curve that hopefully demonstrates said variability...  All ambitious stuff, however I consider myself and students very lucky to be able to play with such a large scope, and, as such, as far as i'm concerned it's important that the time we have on it is put to good scientific use.

As always, you guys here get first light on the results ;)


Title: Re: (596) Scheila - The Shot I Wanted!
Post by: JohnC on January 12, 2011, 06:52:57 pm
Marvellous images. The first one made me think of a microscopic image of live bacteria  and to think it's  an asteroid  is amazing and even more amazing is the way   you imaged it,Mark.

Title: Re: (596) Scheila - The Shot I Wanted!
Post by: Big Dipper on January 13, 2011, 12:53:09 am
Marvellous images. The first one made me think of a microscopic image of live bacteria 

LOL - great minds think alike John!  ;D

Splendid result there Mark. You must be very pleased with it - despite it not making it into the Stargazing Live programmes.