Sunday, May 08, 2005

A close up view of the mystery glow

The general consensus seems to be that the mystery glow that appeared on the west flank of the mountain on Tuesday and Wednesday nights was not due to volcanic activity.

That leaves the question open as to what it was. The most popular theory is that it was due to a defective (hot) pixel on the Volcanocam CCD camera. Other explanations have ranged from a (very large) campfire, someone aiming an infra-red laser at the mountain and electronic equipment from the USGS. The USGS didn't have any equipment there so we can rule that one out.

In order to get a better sense of whether it was a bad pixel I enlarged and cropped the images over the two nights and converted them into a simple animation. The image below is a composite image generated by stacking the images from the two nights.

From the animation it is obvious that the bright spot varied from a few pixels to many pixels over the course of the two nights. Also, since then the bright spot has disappeared from the volcanocam images. So if it was a defective pixel, it is an intermittent problem with the camera.

I don't know enough about the details of the behaviour of dying pixels on a CCD to say whether this behaviour is consistent with a bad pixel, or indicated that the camera was recording something real on the side of the crater.

Any thoughts?


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