Beautiful photos from the Hubble Space Telescope

At the Brain Pickings blog, Maria Popova has some amazing images, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope during its 22 years of operation. I love this one. It's such a great reminder of the time scales of space—the remnants of things that happened 1000 years ago are still moving through the cosmos, even while humans have died and been born and moved on to other obsessions.

One other thing to keep in mind as you're looking at these photos—what you see does not always represent exactly what outer space looks like. An astronaut wouldn't see a red ribbon undulating among the stars. One of these Hubble photographs are put together from multiple images taken by different parts of the telescope. Humans colorize the images to make details stand out. In this case, making the stream of gas red allows us to see it and understand its meaning. In that way, a colorized Hubble image is actually more useful and more educational than a 100% accurate photo would have been.

See the rest of the photos at Brain Pickings

Learn more about how Hubble images are made.

Learn about the process of colorizing Hubble images, including why specific colors are chosen.


  1. If you look around a bit on that last link, you’ll also notice that NASA hosts the raw data online, so you can actually make color versions yourself if you have a little Photoshop know-how.

  2. Just to be a little pedantic, if it is glowing on its own, as it appears to be, doesn’t that make it a plasma, which is as different from a gas as a gas is from a liquid?
    [Edit: not that all plasmas glow, but if it glows, it’s a plasma]

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