All astronomical observatories of the XXIst century involve complex and costly technology, and require careful image processing in order to extract the scientific information. Post-processing of the data, as provided by “image deconvolution”, offers a cheap, clean and fast way to improve the spatial resolution: scientists using image deconvolution are in the privileged position of working with better data than anyone else !
LASTRO has expertise in this field and develops and maintains a suite of tools to spatially deconvolve images and spectra. The main characteristics of the technique, called “MCS” from the names of its inventors, are 1- flux conservation across the field of view, leading to accurate photometry of blended objects, 2- decomposition of the data into a point-source and extended-source channel, 3- the capability to deconvolve simultaneously several images of the same field, leading to a combined, deep and sharp image with improved spatial sampling.
These techniques are applied to many projects in the areas of gravitational lensing, resolved stellar populations, quasar host galaxies, gamma-ray bursts, exoplanets. The image below shows an example of application to the image of a distant galaxy.
Fig. 1 — from left to right: a) enlargement of an image obtained with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). A small and distant galaxy is seen along with smaller companions, b) image deconvolution of this VLT image, as obtained with our algorithms. The resolution is about 2.5 times better than in the original data, c) the same galaxy seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, illustrating the reliability of the deconvolution process.