The Detection of Faint Asteroids by the Shifting and Stacking of Difference Images.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The amount of interest in asteroids, particularly near-Earth asteroids, has been slowly increasing the last few years. Early on, it was the fear of the potential hazards of an asteroid impact (which still remains); now, science and exploration are driving the motivation for detecting asteroids. By incorporating a process that attempts to remove stars from images, known as difference image analysis, into the shift and stack method for finding moving objects, an algorithm that searches for asteroids in series of images was created. When tested on previously discovered asteroids, the algorithm was able to detect 73% (104 out of 142) of the asteroids, with a false positive occurring in roughly one in six runs. Two of the test asteroids found by the algorithm were not found using a different shift and stack technique. Almost all of the asteroids that the algorithm could not detect were either slow moving, faint or both. The detection capability of the algorithm can easily be improved to be more successful at detecting slow and/or faint asteroids. This can be achieved by using a better method for masking the star residuals or by increasing the time between successive images when searching for asteroids with velocities of 2.4