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News Release 536 of 1048

June 24, 2004 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2004-16

Hubble IMAX Film Takes Viewers on Ride Through Space and Time

June 24, 2004: Take a virtual ride to the outer reaches of the universe and explore 10 billion years of galactic history, from fully formed and majestic spiral galaxies to disheveled collections of stars just beginning to form. WATCH: HubbleMinute Video HubbleMinute on IMAX Film and "The Making of the Goods Zoom" HubbleMinute on IMAX Film and "The Making of the Goods Zoom"

This unforgettable cosmic journey is presented in the award-winning IMAX short film, "Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time," which transforms images and data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope into a voyage that sweeps viewers across the cosmos. Using the 650-megapixel-mosaic image created by the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), more than 11,000 galaxy images were extracted and assembled into an accurate 3-D model for the three-minute movie. The large-format film was created by a team of Hubble image and visualization experts in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md. The film was directed by Frank Summers, an astrophysicist and science visualization specialist.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. How did the movie's creators come up with the idea of a Hubble IMAX movie?

  2. The original idea was to create a video-resolution film exploring the three-dimensional structure, and concurrently the time evolution, of the nearly 30,000 galaxies in an image from the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS). During test visualizations with a prelimary image (230 megapixels), it became apparent that video resolution (0.3 megapixels) would not be adequate to show the immmense range of detail in the image. Test visuals on a 21-megapixel visualization display wall showed the potential of an IMAX film (23 megapixels per frame), and the IMAX Corporation was contacted and agreed to donate film-mastering services to the project. The final GOODS image (650 megapixels) was transformed into more than 4,000 IMAX resolution digital frames, creating about 100 billion pixels for the three-minute film.

  3. 2. How did a team of image and visualization experts turn Hubble photographs into a movie?

  4. The team began with a matched set of four observations from GOODS. These data were combined, cropped, and cleaned to create an image suitable for public presentation. Using galaxy data provided by the GOODS team, some 30,000 individual galaxy images were extracted from the master image and isolated. These galaxies were then cross-matched against a catalog of galaxy redshifts created by the GOODS team using ground-based observations. Over 11,000 galaxies had identifiable redshifts, and could thus be assigned a distance in a 3-D model. Using a 3-D animation program, the team flew a virtual camera through the galaxies to create a series of digital frames for the fly-through sequence. Other sequences were created with 2-D pans and composited overlays using the master image and two Hubble galaxy observations. The digital files were then shipped to California, where they were recorded onto IMAX film.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, F. Summers and the Hubble Film Team (STScI).