North Korea ICBM pictures
North Korea denied reports that it was developing biological weapons after reports said it began tests to load anthrax onto its intercontinental ballistic missiles. This photo, taken Nov. 29 and released Nov. 30 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, shows the Hwansong-15 missile, which is capable of putting the United States mainland in its range. Getty Images/AFP/ KCNA VIA KNS

Pictures of North Korea’s missile test launch that were released by the country last week may have been tampered with by the regime, a scientist alleged Tuesday. According to Dr. Marco Langbroek, Space Situational Awareness consultant at Leiden University in the Netherlands, close inspection of the pictures revealed inconsistencies.

North Korea had test-fired what is thought to be its most technologically advanced long-range ballistic missile in the early hours of Nov. 29. Hwasong-15, according to North Korean state media, reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles), and put the "whole" United States mainland in its range.

Two of the images that were shot from the same viewpoint seemed to show two different constellations in the background of the missile, Langbroek said on Twitter: “Two images from clearly same viewpoint, but dramatically different star backgrounds! Orion (Southeast) versus Andromeda (Northwest)!”

In a series of posts, the scientist mentioned other things he found inconsistent in the pictures, which led him to believe they have been tampered with. He also posted two other images of the launch taken from opposite directions, but depicting the same constellation in the background.

Langbroek said one of the reasons he grew suspicious of the images was when a question was raised by a user on whether it is possible to capture stars in the same image that also had a bright rocket exhaust.

“That was one thing that was a reason to grow suspicious. But mainly I took a look at these images with a specific interest in the directions they were taken, because I was discussing the geolocation of the launch site with @ArmsControlWonk and the noted the oddities,” he wrote.

He also told CNN: “You should see constellations that are opposites in the sky. That is not the case.” It was reported that he determined the direction of the photos based on the shape of the plumes of smoke coming out of the engine of the rocket.

However, he said not all the images appeared to be tampered with. Among the pictures released, one showed not just the stars in the background but also blurry people in the bottom-right corner. This, according to him, was a sign that a long exposure was used to capture the night sky to let more light in.

According to CNN, using longer exposures meant the movement would be captured as a blur. Moreover, a wide-open aperture and fast shutter speed would be used to capture the missile's rapid ascent, in which case, stars would not be seen clearly in an image, even in North Korea where there was very low light pollution.

An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan McDowell, as a part of a conversation among experts analyzing the pictures, had earlier tweeted saying he also doubted the images.

“I am skeptical about the stars, it's hard to get stars and foreground objects in same pic—is it possible it's photoshop,” he said. "They looked so crisp, that just didn't seem right to me."

McDowell told CNN he believed the images were only edited for aesthetic purposes because the missile in the picture did not appear to have been altered.

"I don't think we've seen any evidence of that, so it looks like they just cut out a star background and put it on to make it look cool," he said.