Science and Tech Features
10 Incredible Hubble Telescope Images - And the Science Behind Them

CJ Miozzi | 5 Mar 2014 13:00
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The Hubble Space Telescope has been photographing the universe for over two decades with a gallery of stunning imagery to show for it. But what are we looking at in these images, exactly?

Take a tour of 10 of the HST's most beautiful photos with us as we turn to science to explain just what it is you're seeing in each one.

First, a note on color. Were we to take a spaceship and fly out to these sights, they would not appear the way we see them in these photos. In fact, the pictures the HST takes are in black and white. So where does the color come from?

Every HST photo is a composite of multiple photos - typically two or three - each taken to observe a different wavelength of light. The HST can detect not only the visible spectrum of light, but also light that our eyes cannot perceive - ultraviolet and infrared. In this way, the HST is able to visually depict what would otherwise be invisible to us.

A color is assigned to each black and white photo, generally selected to highlight noteworthy features within an image, and the final composition comes together like a full-color photo, just like how a computer monitor combines red, green, and blue to produce what you observe on-screen. So while these images aren't exact representations of what you would see if you viewed these galactic beauties yourself, the use of color is only there to bring out their complexity and wonder.

Click on to see some of the most beautiful images from space ever taken.

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