The VOISE algorithm: a versatile tool for automatic segmentation of astronomical images




The auroras on Jupiter and Saturn can be studied with a high sensitivity and resolution by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ultraviolet (UV) and far-ultraviolet Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instruments. We present results of automatic detection and segmentation of Jupiter's auroral emissions as observed by the HST ACS instrument with the VOronoi Image SEgmentation (VOISE). VOISE is a dynamic algorithm for partitioning the underlying pixel grid of an image into regions according to a prescribed homogeneity criterion. The algorithm consists of an iterative procedure that dynamically constructs a tessellation of the image plane based on a Voronoi diagram, until the intensity of the underlying image within each region is classified as homogeneous. The computed tessellations allow the extraction of quantitative information about the auroral features, such as mean intensity, latitudinal and longitudinal extents and length-scales. These outputs thus represent a more automated and objective method of characterizing auroral emissions than manual inspection.