RASC Regular Meeting, May 8, 2023

Computer, Enhance!

Guest Speaker: Stephen Portillo

RASC Regular Meeting, Monday May 8, 2023

Zeidler Dome, TELUS World of Science Edmonton, 11211 142 St NW Edmonton

7:00 PM (MST), Meet and Greet

7:30 PM (MST), Meeting begins, including guest talk, AstroImaging Corner, and other RASC features.

FREE and open to the public.

This is a hybrid meeting. You may attend in person, or join remotely using Zoom.

Zoom link

Stephen Portillo, Concordia University of Edmonton

Computer, Enhance! Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Algorithms


DALL-E depiction of a galaxy being pulled into a computer.

Just as new telescopes are exciting because they allow astronomers to see previously unknown things, new data analysis algorithms allow astronomers to look more deeply at their images to make new discoveries. Alongside the hardware instrumentation that is essential to modern telescopes, the idea that algorithms are a form of “software instrumentation” is gaining traction. I will discuss two image analysis algorithms that I am developing in my research. The first, probabilistic cataloging, uses Bayesian statistics to better identify stars in extremely crowded regions like star clusters. The second, KBMOD, uses GPUs to combine information from series of images to find faint Kuiper Belt objects.

Stephen Portillo

Growing up in Edmonton, Stephen Portillo’s journey into astronomy started with frequent visits to the RASC Observatory. He then continued to pursue astronomy academically, obtaining a BSc from the University of Alberta and a PhD from Harvard University. With a research focus on astrostatistics, Stephen held a DIRAC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Washington, Seattle. In July 2022, Stephen returned to his hometown, starting as an Assistant Professor of Physics at Concordia University of Edmonton.







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