Update on the Final Year Project
I should have posted this earlier, but I made my choice for the dreaded Final Year Project a few weeks ago. The project concerns the Fermi Large Area Telescope, a gamma-ray space-based telescope used by NASA to view the universe at gamma-ray wavelengths. If you want an idea of what that might look like if we could see gamma rays, this site might interest you.
Back to the project I have. Fermi has detected pulsars (neutron stars that spin at a fast enough rate to appear to pulse) in the past, but it’s spatial resolution is too low for them to be optically identified. What my supervisor, Andy Shearer, wants to do is to investigate deconvolution techniques to see if this can be improved. Deconvolution is the opposite of convolution (thank you, Captain Obvious), which is when two signals are “mixed”, for lack of a better word. An example of this is a motion-blurred photo; or the Hubble Space Telescope, which originally had a flawed mirror distorting photos which could be corrected after the photos had been taken.
Here is a picture (I suspect in false colour) of what Fermi has shown us. If you were to zoom in on individual bright spots, they’d be too blurred to be any use for identifying the pulsars. Deconvolution algorithms should be able to get around this, and the department has their own programmes to do it. All I’ll have to do is to run the programmes on the data from the Fermi catalogue, and maybe tweak them. A bit like game modding, really!