Improved visual detection of moving objects in astronomical images using color intensity projections with hue cycling
While fully automated methods for detecting faint moving objects in astronomical images - such as Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) - are constantly improving, visual detection still has a role to play especially when the fixed background is cluttered with stars. Color intensity projections (CIPs) using hue cycling - which combines a sequence of greyscale images into a single color image - aids in the visual detection of moving objects by highlighting them using color in an intuitive way. To demonstrate the usefulness of CIPs in detecting faint moving objects a sequence of 16 images from the SuprimeCam camera of the Subaru telescope were combined into a CIPs image. As well has making even faint moving objects easier to visually detect against a cluttered background, CCD artefacts were also more easily recognisable. The new Hyper SuprimeCam for the Subaru telescope - which will allow many short exposure images to be acquired with little dead time between images - should provide ideal data for use with the CIPs algorithm. In addition, the current search for KBOs to be targeted by the New Horizon's spacecraft after its flyby of Pluto provides an excellent test case for the state of the art in faint moving object detection against a cluttered background.