SpaceX Starlink satellites are photobombing astronomers, says study

A new study published in 'Astrophysical Journal Letters' claims SpaceX's Starlink satellites are photobombing astronomers' images.

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A new study has found that SpaceX's Starlink satellites are causing an increasing number of problems for astronomers.

SpaceX Starlink satellites are photobombing astronomers, says study 01

The new study was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and claims that SpaceX's Starlink satellites are causing streaks of reflected sunlight to appear in a growing number of astronomers' photographs. Currently, SpaceX has around 1,900 of its Starlink satellites in orbit, and the US Federal Communications Commission has approved the use of 12,000 satellites.

The researchers behind the study found that in Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) images that were taken during the night, there was a 35-fold increase in the number of sunlight streaks caused by Starlink satellites. Comparatively, in late 2019 less than 0.5% of ZTF images contained Starlink streaks, and as of August 2021, 18% of the images were found to be contaminated with streaks.

"We find that the number of affected images is increasing with time as SpaceX deploys more satellites," wrote the researchers. Adding, "We estimate that once the size of the Starlink constellation reaches 10,000, essentially all ZTF images taken during twilight may be affected."

Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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