Images in the extreme
15 February 2013
A synthetic image produced from the data of the dust shell around the red giant star W Hydrae, has earned a team from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Science first prize in the annual Canon Australia's Extreme Imaging competition.
PhD student, Barnaby Norris's entry 'Smoke and mirrors: a dusty halo discovered around red giant stars' shows two polarisations of light, horizontal and vertical. Norris says the image is equivalent to viewing the dust shell through polarised sunglasses.
"At the end of their lives, stars make a grand exit as woollen red giants tens of thousands of times more luminous than our sun," he said.
"They also drive strong stellar winds into deep space, enriching the galaxy with elements essential for life."
How this wind is launched had been a long-running astronomical enigma until Norris and a research team lead by Professor Peter Tuthill from the School of Physics, pioneered a new imaging technique that can detect very faint light scattered from dust.
"The project is possibly the biggest finding to-date around the long-running mystery of the origin of the red giant winds," said Professor Tuthill, who is Norris's PhD supervisor.
Also receiving a highly commend award was an image titled 'Drone versus Swarm' submitted by Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies PhD student Tariq Abuhashim.
Along with supervisors Professors Graham Brooker and Salah Sukkarieh, Tariq and a team from the University's Australian Centre for Field Robotics has been researching and developing new visual sensing technology to track locust plagues.
Tariq says the research will make an invaluable contribution to agriculture.
"Locust plagues have been known throughout history as devastating destroyers of crops. The key to control them is finding methods to accurately map their movement or location, he said."
New technology developed to track swarms and individual locusts with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles has been developed.
Ultimately this improved vision technology will reduce both the cost and the risk of control strategies while increasing coverage and the precision of spraying.
Canon's Extreme Imaging competition (in conjunction with CisRA and the Sydney Powerhouse Museum) recognises local projects where students are developing a new technique or equipment which produces images as part of their research project.
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