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Home > iSGTW - 14 April 2010 > Image of the week - Hubble goes 3D

Image of the week - Hubble goes 3D


Image courtesy of NASA.

If this image of the Orion Nebula looks a little like a Hubble image, and a little like a 3D graphic, that's because it's both.

Science visualization specialists at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland created 12 minutes of visualization for Hubble 3D, a 43-minute 3D Imax film chronicling the history of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The visualization includes a four minute tour through the gas and dust "canyon" of the Orion Nebula.

NASA's website on the project states:

For some of the sequences, STScI imaging specialists developed new techniques for transforming the 2-D Hubble images into 3-D. STScI image processing specialists Lisa Frattare and Zolt Levay, for example, created methods of splitting a giant gaseous pillar in the Carina Nebula into multiple layers to produce a 3D effect, giving the structure depth. The Carina Nebula is a nursery for baby stars.

Frattare painstakingly removed the thousands of stars in the image so that Levay could separate the gaseous layers on the isolated Carina pillar. Frattare then replaced the stars into both foreground and background layers to complete the 3D model. For added effect, the same separation was done for both visible and infrared Hubble images, allowing the film to cross-fade between wavelength views in 3D.

In another sequence viewers fly into a field of 170,000 stars in the giant star cluster Omega Centauri. STScI astronomer Jay Anderson used his stellar database to create a synthetic star field in 3-D that matches recent razor-sharp Hubble photos.

The Imax movie is now showing in a limited number of theaters in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Visit the official website of Hubble 3D. (site has sound)

—Miriam Boon, iSGTW

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