extract low-resolution spectra from diffraction spikes

In imaging from a telescope with a secondary on a spider (for example, in HST imaging), bright stars show diffraction spikes. More generally, the outer parts of the point-spread function are related to the Fourier Transform of the small-scale features in the entrance aperture. The scale at which this Fourier Transform imprints on the focal plane is linearly related to wavelength (just as the angular size of the diffraction-limited PSF goes as wavelength over aperture).

This means that the diffraction spikes coming from stars contain low-resolution spectra of those stars! That is, you ought to be able to extract spectral information from the spikes. It won't be good, but it should permit measurements of colors or temperatures or SED slopes with even single-band imaging, and aid in star–quasar classification. Indeed, in HST press-release images, you can see that the diffraction spikes are little "rainbows" (see below).

The project is to take wide-band imaging from HST, in fields where stars have been measured either in multiple bands or else spectroscopically, and show that some of the scientific results could have been extracted from the single, wide band directly using the diffraction features.

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