News

CiSRA Extreme Images Runner-up


31 March 2014


Tomographic reconstruction of the dusty environment around the dying star Omicron Ceti, by PhD student Paul Stewart.
Tomographic reconstruction of the dusty environment around the dying star Omicron Ceti, by PhD student Paul Stewart.

PhD student from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA), Paul Stewarts entry 'Postcards from the Solar System's edge' reveals stunning images using a novel technique of stars and their composition.

Modern astronomers are confronted with the challenge of studying phenomena so remote that the apparent size of even the nearest stars is measured in thousandths of a second of arc (about the size of a pea in Melbourne viewed from Sydney).

" I have been able to employ tomographic techniques similar to those found in medical imaging to reconstruct unique new high resolution two-dimensional images. This effectively enables the rings of Saturn to be used as a giant telescope which can be used to study the stars,." said Mr Stewart.

Cassini image showing starlight coming through Saturns rings, and some of the nice hard edges that Mr Stewarts technique takes advantage of.
Cassini image showing starlight coming through Saturns rings, and some of the nice hard edges that Mr Stewarts technique takes advantage of.

To overcome the performance limitations of viewing the cosmos through our atmosphere Mr Stewart has taken an innovative approach, using shadows of starlight cast by the rings of Saturn on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, to reconstruct two-dimensional images of stars.

"Paul can be extremely proud of this win, which was based on his innovative use of data from the Cassini spacecraft to image distant stars. There were more than a dozen entries from across Australia, and the winner (from University of WA) was a student working within a mid-size medical team all devoted to the project. Paul gets a prize of $3000 worth of Canon camera gear," said Professor Tuthill, Mr Stewarts PhD Supervisor from SIfA.

"I'm still deciding what to do with the prize, but I will probably end up getting some SLR lenses and an underwater housing for scuba photography. Not overly relevant to astronomy, but it is a lot of fun," - Paul Stewart


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.


Contact: Tom Gordon

Phone: 02 9351 3201

Email: 1363105c11055b3a122a212110010143180f20493144332c0c601826