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CAPTURING COSMIC RAYS WITH A DIGITAL CAMERA

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#1 rekokich

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:33 AM

Muons can be detected with cloud chambers, Geiger counters, and scintillator detectors, but can also be recorded with common digital camera CCD and CMOS chips which are sensitive to charged particles. Muon flux at the surface of the Earth averages approximately 1 particle per square centimeter per minute. The surface area of the APS-C camera sensor (22.3 x 14.9 mm) is 3.3 cm2, which means that we can expect on average 3 muon strikes on the sensor during a 1 minute exposure.

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#2 Rich_B

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 06:01 PM

I think the main issue with CCD detection of cosmic rays is that the sensor is a small 2D type. Cloud chambers offer a 3D view with a nice time persistence of the particle trajectory visibility .

I may have read there are or were some cosmic ray detectors that looked like a stack of CCDs , with a computer reading all the "slices" in the stack and creating a 3D rendering by connecting the places where each individual 2D CCD array showed cosmic ray hits. Somewhat similar to CT scan imaging .

Even then, the number of slices is discrete rather than a continuum and the integration intervals are also discrete , while a cloud chamber can show multiple hits each with its own intrinsic timing . The CCD or whatever imaging sensor  has thermal noise that builds up to higher levels for longer integrations while the cloud chamber doesn't build up noise, it just waits with the same noise level regardless of how long the wait.


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#3 noisejammer

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 07:53 PM

Interesting article but I think long exposure noise reduction is probably the worst possible way to correct for hot pixels and thermal noise in the presence of a transient signal.

To see why, note that the shutter doesn't impede muons meaningfully so that you can expect the same number of muon strikes (statistically at least) to occur in your dark frame. This introduces noise in your dark frame that is identical to your signal. The only way to correct this is to make a lot of dark frames and use sigma combine to eliminate random variation from the systematic noise present in the sensor.

 

Of course, the camera's temperature isn't controlled so getting this to work probably means some juggling of levels.  The idea would be to make your master dark is representative of your camera when the image is captured.



#4 Coconuts

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:47 PM

Very cool, thanks for posting this; I'll have to look for these with my cooled KAF-16803 sensor.  I.I. Rabi's reaction to the discovery of the muon was memorable: "Who ordered that?!".  I remember quantum physics courses at MIT long ago.  Fortunately, there was (and ) is not much in the subject that can actually be solved during the course of an exam; you need a lot of computer time as soon as you get to helium.  One thing thrown my way was to solve for "muonium";  a hydrogen analog in which the proton gets a muon instead of an electron as its atomic partner.  With the same charge as an electron, but 207 times its mass, its energy states are a lot different.  I could solve it then; now, not so much.  

 

One related bit: I expect that traditional silicon solar cells would also detect cosmic rays.  You might want to back bias them, and use a very sensitive transimpedance amp.  I installed 17 kilowatts of panels at our homes over the last year, but their micro inverters prevent you from using them to detect anything.  I have meant for some time to try a small panel and see if I could see anything.  A bit of our local uranium ore should show up as well.

 

All the best,

 

Kevin



#5 TOMDEY

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 07:11 AM

Very cool ! When I worked Aerospace (building satellites) Optical Metrology, we typically had lots of KAF16803s running continuous collects 24/7/365. Our data were of course loaded with Cosmic Ray Hits, which we had software seek out and expunge.  I got fascinated by these quantum events, so wrote my own subroutine to save them to "Toms Cosmic Rays." I put select "interesting ones" in a Rogue's Gallery that the other scientists would see. My favorites were "Cat's Claws" where a spray of particles apparently hit. The most common seemed to be plain vanilla point events though. This is a great "Astronomy!" thing one can do with any camera - even the broken ones! Just set it on continuous acquisition with shutter closed and play with the 1x1 download times. The other settings shouldn't matter if you collect Raw 16 bit cooled camera and process later for best visibility. Fun project that costs nothing and don't even have to go outside!  PS You can get 3-D "Cloud Chamber" by mounting a stack of very large chips like a layered cake. But that is expensive and can't cool them (easily).  Tom Dey


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#6 kirkwannabee

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 10:11 AM

I have done this inadvertently but came to the same conclusions.  You can see long one when the rays are parallel with the focal plane.  taking darks gets rid of the problem but it was upon inspection of the darks that i realized what was happening.



#7 TOMDEY

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 11:29 PM

To clean hits from work-related images, We would take the median (vs the mean) of MANY darks to expunge cosmic ray hits from the darks. That was very effective. If you are willing to dedicate a camera to cosmic rays, it turns out that Short exposures are best. Although very few images will show hits, the ones that do will be very clean and free of thermal noise. The hits are of course temporal point events, so the signature of a hit is not compromised at all --- indeed improved and quantitative. Backouts should still be applied though, mostly to normalize out systematic biases associated with each pixel. A really complete cal would even characterize and apply the offset, gain and nonlinearity or each pixel. Certainly not needed for pretty pictures though. Ummm ... Oh yeah --- if doing short exposures, make a logic pattern-recognition filter to tell you which ones to examine. e.g. local way brighter than median works, cluster of hot pixels also works... lots of ways to do it. A really fancy filter throws out all the losers and stables the keepers to enjoy... Don't tell my boss I was doing that!  Or just say I am finicky to clean up the images.  Tom Dey



#8 rekokich

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 01:20 PM

Thank you for very interesting comments.

Perhaps one of you can explain the meaning of COLOR in cosmic ray images. I presume that particle energy (speed) translates into pixel BRIGHTNESS and the NUMBER of illuminated pixels in a cluster or a streak. But I am at a loss to explain which property of the particle results in the variety of distinct colors.

Also, I would like to see some of your images, especially those of primary cosmic rays, 3% of which are supposed to reach ground level.

Rudy



#9 RichA

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 01:52 AM

An interesting article, thanks.  Similar to what happens when a camera is exposed to a radioactive source emitting gamma rays, but the Muon tracks are tracks and not point-hits.  The only thing is, if noise at high ISO is an issue, one of the cameras using a Sony sensor like Nikon, Sony, Pentax or Olympus will do a better job than Canon, whose sensors are running a few years behind the pack at the moment.



#10 TOMDEY

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 02:22 PM

Catching up here: It's important to keep in mind here that a DSLR still "thinks" it is receiving  RGB photons thru a lens. But the cosmic ray hits are energetic particles that plow right in and kick electrons around (interpreted by the camera as "photo-electrons"). The color-cal of the cam (more gain applied to R and B, less to G) etc. etc. are all percolating in the background and can't be turned off! This will result in "faux-color" images that would be difficult/impossible to interpret. Most ideal would be a good monochrome chip output as uncalibrated RAW 1x1 (unbinned). Even better would have the chip outside with minimal housing around it (which is getting kinda nuts). A lot going on there. Regardless,  I still favor just collecting them and enjoying the events.  Tom



#11 RareBird

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 03:34 PM

Thanks for this informative article. I've marveled at the frequency with which these events appear on my 550D subs, very apparent every time I blink a stack in PixInsight.

 

I was reading up on drizzle integration and saw a raw sub from the HST that appeared to be lousy with these artifacts. Google showed me they shut down some instruments on the HST while over the South Atlantic Anomaly because of elevated cosmic ray events there. We're lucky to be relatively protected down here.

 

https://en.m.wikiped...age_processing)

also

http://documents.sts...wfpc2_ch37.html

 

Arlo



#12 highfnum

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 06:05 AM

did any of you guys here about DECO (digital electronic cosmic observing)?

 

app for droid phones 

 

info is collect sent to university  and data reduction is done for you

then results sent back



#13 highfnum

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 01:42 PM

Cosmic ray observing that is

#14 ProfMoxie

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 01:33 PM

How do you know they are muons as opposed to something else? I assume if they turn out to be more than a single pixel then it is not a camera issue. So I guess it would have to be some kind of particle event. I'm just curious how we know they are muons versus some other cosmic ray event. Incidentally, I think I just nabbed a couple myself. I have a Canon 5D Mark III. These are both from a single 2 minute exposure.

cosmictrail2.jpg

 

cosmictrail1.jpg


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#15 rekokich

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:11 AM

Statistically, at the Earth's surface, 97% of particles are secondary cosmic rays (muons and antimuons), while 3% are primary cosmic rays (protons, alpha particles, nuclei of heavier elements, and electrons). Since all particles have a different ratio between mass and electrical charge, I assume they can be identified in a cloud chamber by the degree of deviation within a standardized magnetic field.

I captured numerous cosmic ray images, and they all look relatively similar. I don't think the camera is suitable for particle identification.

However, I would really like to understand which particle property is responsible for the variation in pixel color.

Rudy



#16 ProfMoxie

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 09:13 PM

I'll have to look into that color thing some more. I'm actually a physicist and have some background in particle physics, but I'm a theorist so my knowledge of how they interact with the chip itself is limited. Either way, this is a very cool experiment to do with my students. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention!


Edited by ProfMoxie, 19 July 2016 - 09:19 PM.

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#17 latune

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 02:40 PM

I took these pictures with my Canon 70D. Exposures were 60-90 minutes (ISO 1600) and the camera was in freezer (-18 Celcius) for three days. I believe these are traces of muons. The longest trace is 182 pixels, almost 1 millimeter long! The most bizarre trace is the one that seems to be curved!?

 

https://drive.google...HuP7zTJRvOj6goF


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#18 drbilliii

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 09:48 AM

I am asking for opinions on an idea.  If I take ASA 400 B&W film (supposedly pushable to 3200 ASA), and just keep it in black plastic as thin as keeps light out, will I get tracks (speckles or streaks) of radioactive particles (cosmic rays...I hope I'm not near any pitchblende) upon developing it?

 

My hope was to run trials with Nd magnet on a stack of 3 or 4, 4x5 sheets, and a similar stack without the potent magnet, but thought someone might know already or have a good idea.



#19 drbilliii

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 04:36 PM

@latune  You going to do it again?  I hope so.  I liked your curved trace at upper right, but it looks like two deflections to my eye...and that's bizarre enough!  To me, the nine pictures have multiple oddities, and the long straight trace in the group is just as odd as any other.

 

Any thoughts on why you guessed they were muons?



#20 RichA

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 12:22 AM

Beta particles (electrons) gamma rays and neutrons might all be visible impacting a CCD/CMOS chip.  There are youtube videos showing this.  If you have a granite countertop in your home, an old radium watch dial or alarm clock, or are in close proximity to a smoke detector, it seems they could impact your camera's sensor too.


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#21 rekokich

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 09:52 PM

latune,

I like your images. Please send us more.

It is a good idea to place the camera into a freezer to minimize sensor noise during long exposures.

Keep the camera in a sealed plastic bag to minimize condensation, and allow it to warm up upon removal from the freezer before opening the bag.

Rudy


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#22 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 09:23 PM

How do you know they are muons as opposed to something else? I assume if they turn out to be more than a single pixel then it is not a camera issue. So I guess it would have to be some kind of particle event. I'm just curious how we know they are muons versus some other cosmic ray event. Incidentally, I think I just nabbed a couple myself. I have a Canon 5D Mark III. These are both from a single 2 minute exposure.

cosmictrail2.jpg

 

cosmictrail1.jpg

 

Use shielding.  High-energy muons can penetrate through thick concrete, but many other forms of ionizing cosmic radiation cannot.  Place the camera in a basement under some aluminum foil perhaps.



#23 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 09:24 PM

latune,

I like your images. Please send us more.

It is a good idea to place the camera into a freezer to minimize sensor noise during long exposures.

Keep the camera in a sealed plastic bag to minimize condensation, and allow it to warm up upon removal from the freezer before opening the bag.

Rudy

 

Placing the camera in a refrigerator or freezer is not a bad idea, particularly to use as a shield from other forms of background radiation.


Edited by Nicole Sharp, 27 July 2018 - 09:24 PM.


#24 Nicole Sharp

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 09:27 PM

I wonder though if you place the camera next to a bushel of bananas, if you can detect the radiation emitted.  Bananas are often one of the most potent radiation sources in a typical household.  If you try to eat two thousand bananas, you might get sick :-/ .



#25 RichA

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 11:22 PM

I've got some 1/8th inch sheet lead.  That might work. 




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