Space Warps Talk

Green Star with a white centre 2 blue dots within an outer green circle then another layer of faded green

  • ozzywazzy94 by ozzywazzy94

    What exactly is happening in this picture


  • JeanTate by JeanTate in response to ozzywazzy94's comment.

    These sorts of strange patterns are common; they're fairly bright stars in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

    What happens is that light from the star 'saturates' the CCD (the part of the camera which collects photons and turns them into electrons), and the software interprets the resulting stream of electrons in strange ways. Light also bounces off the back of the CCD, and so spreads out the image of the star. The spiky appearance is likely 'diffraction spikes', which are a result of the way the vanes ('spiders') which support the secondary mirror in the telescope interact with the star's light.

    Happy hunting!