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Thursday, December 6, 2012

How The Heck Does The Hubble Space Telescope Do It?

Ever wonder how in the world the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) takes those awesomely fascinating photos of galaxies, stars, planets, nubulaes, and supernova remnants more that are a gazillion light years away from us?

Here's The Process: Scientists point the HST to a particular region of space. The HST exposes an image for a long time to collect more light rather than zooming in on them. It collects as many photons as possible on optical sensors which relays the data to computers here on earth which recombines the data into pictures.

The HST takes pictures using the full spectrum of light from infrared to ultraviolet that the human eye cannot see. It even uses X-rays. It uses lenses that either captures or filters different wavelengths. It sees or filters out different colors such as red, blue, and green . This tells us what we are looking at, such as hydrogen atoms, oxygen atoms, and nitrogen ions. 

Example:Hydrogen emits red light. If the HST did not do filter out the color red, most pictures would be kind of reddish as hydrogen is by far the most abundant element in the universe. Hence, astronomers can tell by color just what the heck they are looking at. By combining these images scientists can create full-color pictures.

And the images are enhanced too. There is nothing wrong with doing this.

Okay, enough of this blah blah blah. Just sit back and enjoy images (Image Credits via NASA) made possible by the Hubble Space Telescope taken in the backyard that is our universe!

Interacting Galaxy Pair ARP 87

The Sombrero Galaxy
Spiral Galaxy M74

Most Distant Galaxy Candidates

Mosaic of the Crab Nebulae

Red Super Giant Star V838 Monocerotis


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Stephen - great information .. I hadn't realised they used light to identify objects and to hone the photos we see ... it is incredible how the human brain can work out ways of exploring and then giving us non-scientists things we can actually see ... these photos you've highlighted here are great examples - fascinating ..

cheers Hilary


This was most interesting to read Stephen, it is surprising how this world and space works, thanks for sharing.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Very cool process.
Shame Mike broke the Hubble.

JoJo said...

I remember when the Hubble was first sent into outer space and it was all out of focus. I remember thinking what a colossal waste of money it was. But then they were able to fix it and now I think they've definitely gotten their money's worth. The images are amazing.

Miranda Hardy said...

Those are awesome pictures and I'm amazed by the HST capabilities.