With the thousands of photographs taken of the far reaches of heavenly space, it was a difficult task trying to select one single portrait to use in celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope‘s 20th anniversary. After a grueling discussion, Hubble astronomers settled on a new angle: a close-up shot of a portion of the Carina Nebula, a dramatic star-forming region in deep space that the Hubble first laid lens on back in 2007.
Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said that the goal was to match -if not exceed – the spectacular image of the iconic ‘pillars of creation,’ which is a reference to a 1995 Hubble image of the Eagle Nebula. Livio puts the improvement into focus by calling the newer image the “Eagle Nebula on steroids.”
This new image accentuates the sophisticated improvements of the recently installed Wide Field Camera 3. Not only does it impress the public, but it will provide a historical-visual record for future astronomers that are interested in studying a star-forming region of the universe. Once the images were taken, Zolt Levay – the institute’s resident image resource expert – and his assistant, Lisa Frattare, constructed the finalized image – which they made by coloring in the black and white images that Hubble radios back to Earth.
Not only is this cool science, but a wicked example of scientific art.