A vibrant celestial photo album of some of NASA Hubble Space Telescope's most stunning views of the universe is being unveiled today on the Internet. Called the Hubble Heritage Program, this technicolor gallery is being assembled by a team of astronomers at Hubble's science operations center, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. The four images released today are (top row, left to right) spiral galaxy NGC 7742, Saturn, and (bottom row, left to right) the Sagittarius Star Cloud and the Bubble Nebula.
A vibrant celestial photo album of some of NASA Hubble Space Telescope's most stunning views of the universe is being unveiled today on the Internet.
Called the Hubble Heritage Program, this Technicolor gallery is being assembled by a team of astronomers at Hubble's science operations center, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, MD.
The Hubble Heritage program is intended to provide the public with some of the very best celestial views the Space Telescope has to offer.
A "newly processed" Hubble "picture of the month" will be shared with the public on an ongoing basis at a dedicated web site: http://heritage.stsci.edu. A new image will be posted on the first Thursday of every month.
The STScI team is sifting through Hubble telescope's treasure trove of space images to uncover some of the most striking pictures ever taken by the orbiting observatory.
The Hubble images were originally taken for astronomical research. The images are digitally stored on optical disks in the Hubble archives for other scientists to retrieve for further research.
Aside from scientific value, the images offer compelling views of the universe's infinite wonders. They include all types of astronomical phenomena, from nearby planets, to colorful nebulae, to remote galaxies.
The first batch of pictures released today includes a view into the star-studded hub of our galaxy; Saturn in "natural color"; a stellar-wind sculpted bubble carved by a massive hot star; and an overhead view of a magnificent spiral galaxy, dubbed "sunny side up."
Since its launch in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope has taken pictures of over 10,000 celestial objects. The most scientifically interesting observations have been released to news organizations routinely. A large number of pictures have not previously been presented to the public. The task of selecting images for the Hubble Heritage project involves more than just flipping through Hubble's 5.4-terabyte scrapbook of over 130,000 space pictures. Beautiful color pictures have been meticulously assembled by skilled image processing specialists at STScI.
The images selected from the archive are originally black and white and must be combined with other pictures of the same object, taken through different filters. Photographic film, home video cameras, and even the human eye reconstruct color views in a similar manner.
The Institute's image processing specialists carefully selected colors to bring out the most detail in the pictures. These aesthetic pictures can also yield new insights into the nature of a celestial object. The team continues working away on Hubble images, and assembling enticing new views of celestial wonders for the public.
"These images communicate, at a visceral level, the awe and excitement that we experience when exploring the universe with Hubble. It is our chance to repay the public that supports us," says Heritage program scientist Keith Noll.