Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2001 June 17
Explanation: Tumultuous clouds of the Carina Nebula, 8000 light-years away, glow in planet Earth's southern sky. Striking and detailed, this close-up of a portion of the famous nebula is a combination of exposures through six different filters taken with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in April of 1999. Dramatic dark dust knots and complex features revealed are sculpted by the winds and radiation of Carina's massive and energetic stars. But how were this picture's colours generated? Astronomical images produced from Hubble Space Telescope data can be composed of exposures made using relatively narrow filters which don't match the colour responses of the human eye. Some of the filters even transmit wavelengths of light outside the visible spectrum. Exposures made with different narrow filters, as in this case, are translated to a visible colour where shorter wavelengths are assigned bluer and longer wavelengths assigned redder colours. This colour scheme represents a "chromatically ordered" way of presenting the data rather than a natural colour image.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.