The Colour Analysis of Meteors Using the Desert Fireball Network

Masters Thesis

Johnson, Christopher. 2023. The Colour Analysis of Meteors Using the Desert Fireball Network. Masters Thesis Master of Science (Research). University of Southern Queensland.

The Colour Analysis of Meteors Using the Desert Fireball Network

TypeMasters Thesis
AuthorsJohnson, Christopher
1. FirstProf Brad Carter
2. SecondA/Pr Duncan Wright
3. ThirdEllie Sansom
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameMaster of Science (Research)
Number of Pages88
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Meteors have long been studied to determine their origins, whether it be the initial curiosity of ‘What is this bright light streaking across the sky?’, or where these chunks of celestial rocks come from in our Solar system. Colour analysis of meteors has been previously attempted with limited results. Differentiating meteors by colour alone enables efficient automated surveys that help provide a link between meteoroids and meteorites. Currently, there is promising, but limited knowledge regarding the spectra of meteors, with several small studies performed. These studies are hampered by the difficulties of gaining meteor spectra due to their serendipitous nature, and the narrow field of view of current spectrographic instruments. Using photometry, which measures the brightness in a particular colour, to study these events leads to greater accessibility, but a lower accuracy. This can be offset by the larger number of observations possible with a photometric setup.With access to the Desert Fireball Network’s archival data, I have undertaken a pilot study to assess the viability of a large-scale study of meteor colour to detect noticeable colour variations or consistent trends within RGB observations.Through an initial study of the data, I found that colour-indices at a fixed altitude of 75 km reveals a relationship between the colour-index and the initial velocity of an incoming fireball, which is congruent with previous literature. This could allow colour to be used as a proxy for velocity if velocity data is unavailable, or potentially allow shower associations to be proposed or confirmed from a single camera observation. Given the small nature of this data set and the compact time frame in which the datawas observed, along with the annual nature of meteor showers, further investigation with the completeDFNdataset is required to confirm if these results are consistent throughout the complete data set.

KeywordsMeteors; Fireball; Meteoroids; Planets and Satellites; Comets
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020510102. Astronomical instrumentation
510109. Stellar astronomy and planetary systems
510905. Solar system planetary science (excl. planetary geology)
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Mathematics, Physics and Computing
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