Relativity visualized

Space Time Travel

Brightness and color of rapidly
moving objects: The visual appearance of a large sphere
revisited
Flight past the sun, MPEG1 320×240 (1.0 MB), MPEG4 320×240 (678 kB), MPEG1 640×480 (2.3 MB), MPEG4 640×480 (2.0 MB)

Brightness and color of rapidly moving objects: The visual appearance of a large sphere revisited

Ute Kraus, January 1, 2000

An object at relativistic speed is seen as both rotated and distorted when it is large or close by so that it subtends a large solid angle. This is a consequence of the aberration effect and is obtained by purely geometric considerations. In this paper it is pointed out and illustrated that a photorealistic image of such an object would actually be dominated by the Doppler and searchlight effects, which would be so prominent as to render the geometric apparent shape effectively invisible.

 

Content:
Introduction
Brightness perceived by the human eye
Concluding remarks
Appendix: Lorentz transformation of the specific intensity
References

Supplement (movies and color image)

Published in The American Journal of Physics, vol. 68 (1), January 2000, pp 56-60.

This article can be downloaded in PDF-format here:
Brightness and color of rapidly moving objects: The visual appearance of a large sphere revisited (152 kB).

 
More: Additional examples of the visual appearance of objects at relativistic speeds, including movies, can be found in Motion near the cosmic speed limit. Trips all the way through the Brandenburg Gate can be found in Visual observations in high speed flight.

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Authors: Ute Kraus, Date: January 1, 2000
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All contents copyright (C) 2001-2016 Ute Kraus, Corvin Zahn. All rights reserved. For more information see Copyright.