Richard Smith - Student Profile
Current research project
Binary Transneptunian Objects in the Hubble Space Telescope Archive
I am developing and applying a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC)-based Point Spread Function (PSF)-fitting code to archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data of Transneptunian Objects, aiming to improve our understanding of known binary objects and identifying new binary candidates in the population.
While previous studies have used PSF fitting to analyse some of the data, my work constitutes the first time a robust, consistent, MCMC-based PSF fitting method has been applied to the full dataset. The current focus is on Wide Field Camera 3 data, though the code can be modified to process other HST instrument data. The code fits and subtracts a PSF to each component a binary to measure the component magnitudes and colours and will be used to identify potential new binaries by fitting and subtracting a single PSF to assumed single Transneptunian Objects. The code may also be applied to other solar system populations, e.g. to search for cometary nuclei fragmentation.
- I am interested in objects in the outer solar system, particularly reprocessing archival data to improve our understanding of these objects
- I am interested in extending this to nearby solar system objects, including cometary nuclei