NOAO < NEWS < Digital tracking dramatically increases telescope sensitivity to faint asteroids

Digital tracking dramatically increases telescope sensitivity to faint asteroids

Real on-sky tracks of asteroids detected (arrows) using digital tracking.

A new study (Heinze et al. 2015) describes how an image stacking technique called “digital tracking” can be used to discover large numbers of faint new asteroids. Although more computationally intensive than conventional analysis techniques, digital tracking can detect moving objects 10 times fainter than is typically possible, effectively increasing the aperture of the telescope used for the study. The authors validated their approach using data from the 0.9m WIYN telescope on Kitt Peak. They detected approximately 200 asteroids in a 1 degree square field at a brightness level that was previously accessible only to 4-m and larger telescopes. Three-fourths of the asteroids are new discoveries.

Link to published paper: http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1508.01599.