These two Hubble Space Telescope images of a well-known debris disk around the star system HD 181327 illustrate how new image processing techniques have allowed astronomers to uncover debris disks around several young stars. Astronomers developed the new techniques for images of debris disks taken by Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS).
In the NICMOS image at left, made using the standard image processing technique, the disk cannot be fully seen because of the excess light streaming from the star. NICMOS's coronagraph blocks most of the star's light, but some of it still escapes beyond the edge of the occulting mask. In the image at right, astronomers used the new image processing technique to filter out the residual starlight. The image clearly reveals the entire debris disk. Astronomers used this same technique to reveal debris disks around five stars whose NICMOS images were found in the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST).
Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Soummer and M. Perrin (STScI), L. Pueyo (STScI/Johns Hopkins University), C. Chen and D. Golimowski (STScI), J.B. Hagan (STScI/Purdue University), T. Mittal (University of California, Berkeley/Johns Hopkins University), E . Choquet, M. Moerchen, and M. N'Diaye (STScI), A. Rajan (Arizona State University), S. Wolff (STScI/Purdue University), J. Debes and D. Hines (STScI), and G. Schneider (Steward Observatory/University of Arizona)