very Very long baseline stereo imaging

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very Very long baseline stereo imaging

Post by rjlittlefield »

Called to my attention today, ... experiment
NASA’s New Horizons Conducts the First Interstellar Parallax Experiment

For the first time, a spacecraft has sent back pictures of the sky from so far away that some stars appear to be in different positions than we'd see from Earth.

More than four billion miles from home and speeding toward interstellar space, NASA's New Horizons has traveled so far that it now has a unique view of the nearest stars. “It’s fair to say that New Horizons is looking at an alien sky, unlike what we see from Earth,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “And that has allowed us to do something that had never been accomplished before — to see the nearest stars visibly displaced on the sky from the positions we see them on Earth.
See the article for stereo pairs of two different stars made with this extraordinarily long baseline.

A pedant might quibble that it's quite straightforward to generate stereo pairs with even longer baselines. Because our Solar System is moving at about 43,000 miles per hour relative to the local standard of rest, any two astronomical photos taken more than 11.5 years apart and perpendicular to the motion will have a longer baseline than the 4.3 billion miles of the New Horizons' effort. But then of course those two images will have been separated in time by 11.5 years also, so disparity from distance gets mixed up with disparity from actual motion of the stars being imaged. In the New Horizon's case, shooting both images on the same day eliminates that effect as a practical concern.

I'm not clear that anything new was discovered by this bit of imaging, but at the least it sure is a cool demo!


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