The question that this group of scientists, led by Craig DeForest from the Southwest Research Institute’s branch in Boulder, Colorado, was trying to answer was in regard to the source of solar wind. “In deep space, the solar wind is turbulent and gusty,” said DeForest in a release. “But how did it get that way? Did it leave the Sun smooth, and become turbulent as it crossed the solar system, or are the gusts telling us about the Sun itself?”

The answer lies in the outer corona of the Sun, where the solar wind originates. If the Sun causes the turbulence, then the outer corona itself should have some structure. Up until now, when scientists studied the outer corona, it appeared smooth and homogenous. The team used long-exposure images from the spacecraft STEREO-A that blocked out the star itself to look at this area. The problem was increasing the resolution of cameras that were already flying in space and couldn’t be serviced.

The answer: Use algorithms in order to process the images in various ways to enhance the clarity. By filtering out the noise from background stars, correcting for how long the shutter was open during image capture and normalizing brightness, the team was able to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and produce clearer and crisper images. Additionally, the team ran an algorithm to reduce motion blur in real-time. They accomplished this by actually shifting their images to take the motion of the solar wind into account. “We smoothed, not just in space, not just in time, but in a moving coordinate system,” DeForest said. “That allowed us to…