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Iconic Space Images Are Actually Black-and-White


Source: YouTube Video

The Hubble Space Telescope can take only black-and-white images. But by analyzing the wavelengths of light that different elements emit in space, this man turns dull pictures of our universe into the colorful masterpieces we've come to love.

Stashed in: The Universe, Awesome, Colors!, Science beauty, Space the Final Frontier?, Astro, Astronomy Photos

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And the masterpieces are so much better with color!

This is true for any astronomical instrument.

Two main reasons:

1 - High tech cameras need to be extremely sensible to intensity, and need the higher resolution possible, so we're not gonna bother taking pictures in colors with filters that could reduce intensity and certainly divide the resolution.

2 - The materials used to make color cameras we use everyday in our smartphones are quite fragile and won't survive to space conditions.

So, the parade to that is to take various monochromatics (black/white) images, but taken with different optical filters that select different colors (= wavelengths), for example 3 monochromes: 1 Red, 1 Green, 1 Blue. You can then make a composition of the 3 images to get a final image, in color, not far from what the human eye would see.

And the interesting part is that depending on the wavelengths your filter select, you will see different structures. For example structures emitting Ultra Violet and structures emitting Infra Red are extremely

different.

Example with the Milky way:

image-55143e2f9d5ea-r2Tt.gif

Source: http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~ghezgroup/gc/journey/wavelength.html

That's fascinating. I'm sure the black and white photos are amazing but the colorized pics are often spectacular. 

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