Taking color pictures with the Hubble Space Telescope is much
more complex than taking color pictures with a traditional camera.
For one thing, Hubble doesn't use color film — in fact, it
doesn't use film at all. Rather, its cameras record light from
the universe with special electronic detectors. These detectors
produce images of the cosmos not in color, but in shades of black
Finished color images are actually combinations of two or more
black-and-white exposures to which color has been added during
The colors in Hubble images, which are assigned for various reasons,
aren't always what we'd see if we were able to visit the imaged
objects in a spacecraft. We often use color as a tool, whether
it is to enhance an object's detail or to visualize what ordinarily
could never be seen by the human eye.