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First released JWST images are amazing. However, given the amount of image processing, false colours, cleanup etc. that must have gone into these images, why not also remove or reduce the diffraction spikes on bright stars ? Since these are purely artefacts of the telescope construction and have nothing to do with what is being imaged.

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    $\begingroup$ "Why not?" Sounds easy but I'm quite sure it would be nearly impossible without leaving other even more distracting artifacts. (Have a look at answers to What visual artifacts are expected from the JWST?) I think that answers to a new question like "What would be the challenges to removing or reducing the diffraction spikes on bright stars in space telescope images for public consumption? Has it ever been tried?" will be quite illuminating - perhaps that can be your follow-up question? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 13 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ Space.SE duplicate: space.stackexchange.com/q/58624/20766 $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jul 13 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ What would you put in their place? $\endgroup$ Jul 13 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Rob In Stack Exchange "duplicate" as a very specific meaning and it does not relate to questions posted on other sites. Neither does cross-posting in this case. Calling it a duplicate may attract unnecessary negativity (down voting, closing) that otherwise might happen. Why not just say "answered in Space SE" or similar (e.g. "related in", and avoid using a term reserved for something different than this case? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 13 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh, only offering an existing answer; don't attribute additional meaning to the improvement. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Jul 13 at 21:03

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Simple answer: false-color does not in any way "photoshop" the original image information. The term "cleanup" doesn't mean anything. Quite probably multiple images were collected to reduce Poisson noise (both photon and sensor readout), but again that does nothing to manipulate the actual distribution of photons on the image plane.
While diffraction spikes can be removed given solid knowledge of the telescope's mechanical construction, no matter what you do there will be some loss of fidelity. (By way of comparison, you could look up methods for removing pure spherical defocus error in an image, for example)

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  • $\begingroup$ Understood - but why not accept a small loss in fidelity as the price for improving the overall veracity of the image ? It’s not as if anyone is doing any science on these glossy composite public-relations images (as opposed to the underlying spectroscopic data from which they are constructed). $\endgroup$
    – gandalf61
    Jul 14 at 8:04

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