Meaning of Color
Wacky Shape
Behind the Pictures

The Hubble Space Telescope is noted for providing beautiful and often bizarre color pictures of galaxies, planets, and nebulae. Do the pictures really reflect the colors these objects would have if we visited them in a spacecraft? Why do some of the pictures have an unusual stair-step shape?

The answers to these questions require a peek behind the scenes a look at how Hubble actually makes images.

Processing Hubble Images

Go inside Hubble's image lab

"Creating Hubble's Technicolor Universe" (PDF document) This article appeared in the September 2002 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine (Copyright 2002, Sky Publishing Corp.), and is made available on this Web site by permission of the publisher.

Hubble images are made, not born. Images must be woven together from the incoming data from the cameras, cleaned up and given colors that bring out features that eyes would otherwise miss. In this video from HubbleSite, online home of the Hubble Space Telescope, a Hubble-imaged galaxy comes together on the screen at super-fast speed.

Watch the video:

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Color in Hubble Images Why the Wacky Shape?