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How to Color the Universe
 

How to Color the Universe

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Presented at the SkyScrapers meeting on March 1, 2013 in Scituate, RI, these slides look at how astronomical data are processed/colored and what implications those colors might have.

Presented at the SkyScrapers meeting on March 1, 2013 in Scituate, RI, these slides look at how astronomical data are processed/colored and what implications those colors might have.

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  • Astronomical data translate into a powerful form of imagery for the public. Cosmic images provide an opportunity for us to consider some of the largest philosophical questions facing the human race - where do we come from, and where are we going? There are so many astronomy images are available for experts and non-experts alike, from a fleet of telescopes on the ground and in space. Terabytes upon terabytes of data coming out of the fleet of observatories, not to mention astrophotographers.
  • Astronomers have used this set of single-colour images, shown around the edge, to construct the colour picture (centre) of a ring of star clusters surrounding the core of the galaxy NGC 1512. These pictures were taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Faint Object Camera (FOC), Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS).Each image represents a specific colour or wavelength region of the spectrum, from ultraviolet to near infrared, and shows the wide wavelength region covered by Hubble. Celestial bodies emit light at a variety of wavelengths, anywhere from gamma rays to radio waves. Astronomers chose to study NGC 1512 in these colours to emphasise important details in the ring of young star clusters surrounding the core
  • A spiral galaxy located about 21 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: This composite image of M101 (aka, the "Pinwheel Galaxy") combines data from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. X-rays from Chandra (purple) reveal the hottest and most energetic areas due to exploded stars, superheated gas, and material falling toward black holes. Infrared data from Spitzer (red) shows dusty lanes in the galaxy where stars are forming, while Hubble data (yellow) traces the light from stars. Ultraviolet emission detected by GALEX (blue) shows emission from young stars. Scale: Image is 16.8 arcmin across.
  • A spiral galaxy located about 21 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: This composite image of M101 (aka, the "Pinwheel Galaxy") combines data from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. X-rays from Chandra (purple) reveal the hottest and most energetic areas due to exploded stars, superheated gas, and material falling toward black holes. Infrared data from Spitzer (red) shows dusty lanes in the galaxy where stars are forming, while Hubble data (yellow) traces the light from stars. Ultraviolet emission detected by GALEX (blue) shows emission from young stars. Scale: Image is 16.8 arcmin across.
  • A spiral galaxy located about 21 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: This composite image of M101 (aka, the "Pinwheel Galaxy") combines data from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. X-rays from Chandra (purple) reveal the hottest and most energetic areas due to exploded stars, superheated gas, and material falling toward black holes. Infrared data from Spitzer (red) shows dusty lanes in the galaxy where stars are forming, while Hubble data (yellow) traces the light from stars. Ultraviolet emission detected by GALEX (blue) shows emission from young stars. Scale: Image is 16.8 arcmin across.
  • A spiral galaxy located about 21 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: This composite image of M101 (aka, the "Pinwheel Galaxy") combines data from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. X-rays from Chandra (purple) reveal the hottest and most energetic areas due to exploded stars, superheated gas, and material falling toward black holes. Infrared data from Spitzer (red) shows dusty lanes in the galaxy where stars are forming, while Hubble data (yellow) traces the light from stars. Ultraviolet emission detected by GALEX (blue) shows emission from young stars. Scale: Image is 16.8 arcmin across.
  • A spiral galaxy located about 21 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: This composite image of M101 (aka, the "Pinwheel Galaxy") combines data from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. X-rays from Chandra (purple) reveal the hottest and most energetic areas due to exploded stars, superheated gas, and material falling toward black holes. Infrared data from Spitzer (red) shows dusty lanes in the galaxy where stars are forming, while Hubble data (yellow) traces the light from stars. Ultraviolet emission detected by GALEX (blue) shows emission from young stars. Scale: Image is 16.8 arcmin across.
  • A spiral galaxy located about 21 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR & UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: This composite image of M101 (aka, the "Pinwheel Galaxy") combines data from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. X-rays from Chandra (purple) reveal the hottest and most energetic areas due to exploded stars, superheated gas, and material falling toward black holes. Infrared data from Spitzer (red) shows dusty lanes in the galaxy where stars are forming, while Hubble data (yellow) traces the light from stars. Ultraviolet emission detected by GALEX (blue) shows emission from young stars. Scale: Image is 16.8 arcmin across.
  • Also known as the Cat's Eye, this planetary nebula is located about 3,000 light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: A composite image of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) and Hubble Space Telescope (red and purple) of NGC 6543 shows a phase that Sun-like stars undergo at the end of their lives. Material from the outer layers of the star in the Cat's Eye is flying away at about 4 million miles per hour. A hot core is left behind that eventually collapses to become a white dwarf star. The Chandra data reveal that the central star in NGC 6543 is surrounded by a cloud of multi-million-degree gas. Scale: Image is 1.2 arcmin across.
  • Also known as the Cat's Eye, this planetary nebula is located about 3,000 light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: A composite image of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) and Hubble Space Telescope (red and purple) of NGC 6543 shows a phase that Sun-like stars undergo at the end of their lives. Material from the outer layers of the star in the Cat's Eye is flying away at about 4 million miles per hour. A hot core is left behind that eventually collapses to become a white dwarf star. The Chandra data reveal that the central star in NGC 6543 is surrounded by a cloud of multi-million-degree gas. Scale: Image is 1.2 arcmin across.
  • Also known as the Cat's Eye, this planetary nebula is located about 3,000 light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: A composite image of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) and Hubble Space Telescope (red and purple) of NGC 6543 shows a phase that Sun-like stars undergo at the end of their lives. Material from the outer layers of the star in the Cat's Eye is flying away at about 4 million miles per hour. A hot core is left behind that eventually collapses to become a white dwarf star. The Chandra data reveal that the central star in NGC 6543 is surrounded by a cloud of multi-million-degree gas. Scale: Image is 1.2 arcmin across.
  • Also known as the Cat's Eye, this planetary nebula is located about 3,000 light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI) Caption: A composite image of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) and Hubble Space Telescope (red and purple) of NGC 6543 shows a phase that Sun-like stars undergo at the end of their lives. Material from the outer layers of the star in the Cat's Eye is flying away at about 4 million miles per hour. A hot core is left behind that eventually collapses to become a white dwarf star. The Chandra data reveal that the central star in NGC 6543 is surrounded by a cloud of multi-million-degree gas. Scale: Image is 1.2 arcmin across.
  • I’d like to talk about about how these images are received by non-experts. I’ve had the pleasure of running a project called “From Earth to the Universe” since 2009. This project puts astronomy image exhibits in unusual locations for science outreach – public parks, metros, cafes, prisons, etc. We’ve had about 1,000 different exhibit sites and in 40 languages worldwide, on every continent except Antarctica. The image collection has about 125 images in it, some of the most dramatic views of our universe, from NASA’s multimillion dollar satellites, to the most powerful ground based telescopes, and a host of astrophotographers images.
  • Akira FujiiA LUNAR ECLIPSE: Why does the Moon have a reddish hue in these images? It's the same reason that the Sun appears reddish during a sunset: scattered light. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth is situated directly between the Sun and the Moon. Sunlight reaching the Moon travels a path through dense layers of Earth's atmosphere. Atmospheric particles preferentially scatter out shorter (bluer) wavelengths leaving only the longer (redder) wavelengths to refract (bend) through the atmosphere and illuminate the Moon. Image Credit: Akira Fujii/Ciel et Espace
  • Dan Schechter. COMET HALE-BOPP656 light secondsComet Hale-Bopp was a treat mostly for northern hemisphere observers in 1997. Its passage through the inner solar system was relatively stately, and was visible to the naked eye for well over a year. At its peak in 1997, Hale-Bopp developed two tails - the bright white dust tail, and a blue tail made from glowing ionised gas. Hale-Bopp will come by again - just not for another 2400 years or so!
  • ANTARES600 light-yearsOne of the most colourful vistas in the night sky is the region around the red supergiant star called Antares. This huge star is about 700 times the diameter of our Sun. If we had a star of this size in our Solar System it would completely engulf all the planets out as far as Mars - including Earth. Behind Antares there are colourful areas of hydrogen gas (pink) and dust (yellow). To the right is the triplet star Rho Ophiuchi, sitting in its own glowing blue mantle of gas. This image also includes the globular star clusters M4 and NGC 6144.Credit: Jay Ballauer / Adam Block
  • David Malin’s CORONA AUSTRALIS REFLECTION NEBULA500 light-yearsA long tail of interstellar dust shines in the reflected light of nearby stars in this view of a nebula in the constellation Corona Australis (the southern crown). In some parts the dust accumulates to form dense molecular clouds from which it is thought young stars are born.Credit: David Malin.
  • But when in the U.S. we asked exhibit attendees which were the most memorable images, I was a little surprised at the results. So let’s take a poll. How many would say this first image is most memorable? And this one…etc.
  • But when in the U.S. we asked exhibit attendees which were the most memorable images, I was a little surprised at the results. So let’s take a poll. How many would say this first image is most memorable? And this one…etc.
  • These were some of the most memorable images. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Before I go any further, I have to make a disclaimer here because this data is not rigorous. Each of the locations were highly unique as far as space and setup (compare a college square for example to a small library, and the logistics of having them arranged the same are impossible). Not all images were used in each location, the images were placed in different spots as space allowed. The traffic patterns of the venues were all different. For example In a few locations, we seemed to notice a trend that the images placed closest to the bathrooms were coming across as memorable - possibly because folks were staying put in that location the longest, waiting for a family member to come out, or just in line to use the facilities even. Also it could be that that stories behind these particular images made the image stick in the viewer’s mind. So again, not rigorous. But interesting nonetheless –with a lot more research questions to follow up on.
  • Moving out of photo-type images for a bit. What about when we want to talk about topics in cosmology, about the greater Universe, and there are not pretty pictures? An example of this is our collective image of our place in the universe, and the shift from us being at the center. Though according to Jon Miller’s study from early 2000’s,One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth –.
  • We now know that the Sun is the center of the solar system, and like squabbling siblings, Earth is just one out of 8 planets
  • But surely, Our image of our place in the Universe=Center of Galaxy?Well no. But it turns out that’s a good thing of course, b/c there’s a big black hole at the center of our galaxy that helps control and regulate the care and feeding and ultimate size of our galaxy. Ok.
  • Ok fine. But we are in the center of the Universe at least?Nope. There is no centre of the universe!  According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a "Big Bang" about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since.  Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere.  The Big Bang should not be visualised as an ordinary explosion.  The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.And not only that but we (the material we’re made of) are but “a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck” (borrowing that from Neil degrasse Tyson)of what the Universe is…
  • And the universe is made of Jelly Beans of course. But really, this image is an attempt to talk about some of these big cosmological ideas in a way that is still relatable to us in an everyday situation. Our Universe is mostly dark: about 96 percent consists of dark energy (about 70%) and dark matter (about 26%). Only about 4 percent (the same proportion as the lighter colored jelly beans) of the Universe—including the stars, planets and us—is made of familiar atomic matter.
  • The images I’ve showed today are all in our upcoming book, launching in one month. If you’re interested in talking any more about the research study, please get in touch. Also for any folks interested, I have handouts on our process at Chandra as well as pointers to data sets to work with.

How to Color the Universe How to Color the Universe Presentation Transcript

  • How to Color the UniverseKim ArcandCo-author, Your Ticket to the UniverseNASA’s Chandra X-ray ObservatorySmithsonian Astrophysical ObservatoryMarch, 2013Twitter: @kimberlykowalHashtag: ColorUniv
  • Pink planets? Green galaxies? Purple blobs? Is space really so colorful? Take a tour ofthe multiwavelength universe from our local neighborhood, the solar system, and out tothe farthest destinations in human knowledge. With data from NASAs Chandra X-raytelescope, Spitzer space telescope and Hubble, along with ground-based images fromobservatories and amateur astronomers worldwide, well take a look at what goes intothe kaleidoscope of color we enjoy from our vantage point on Earth.
  • Modern Astronomical Images
  • The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Take an alien to a baseball game.
  • The Age of Photoshop
  • 10001010100010010111110101010010101010100100101010111111010101001011000100101010010010101000101010010101010100010100111111101010000010110100010010010010100101010100111111101101010010010010111111010011010101101000101011110101010101010010101011101100101010100110010101010100101010101010010110111101000100101001011001000001010011111010010101001010110101010010101010100100100101001010101010011110100100010010100101010100101010101001010101001010100110010101010100010111101101010010010010111111010011010101101000101011110101010101010010101011101100101010011111110101000001011010001001001001010010101010011110100101010010101001010101001010110100101010100101001010101010101110110010101010011001010101010010101010101001011011110100010010100101100100000101001111101001010101010111011001010101001100101010101001010101010100101101111010001001010010 What the data really looks like?
  • Peer-to-Peer Communication
  • Iconic Imagery & the Hubble Palette
  • Beyond RGB: More than 3 colors!
  • This is contributing to the informational quotient of an image.OxygenNeonMagnesiumSilicon & Sulfur Adding Color = Adding to Information Quotient
  • The Recognizable Object
  • Beyond RGB: Crab Nebula
  • Beyond RGB: Crab Nebula
  • Beyond RGB: Crab Nebula
  • Beyond RGB: Crab Nebula
  • Beyond RGB: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • Beyond RGB: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • Beyond RGB: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • Beyond RGB: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • Beyond RGB: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • Beyond RGB: Pinwheel Galaxy
  • Beyond RGB: Cat’s Eye
  • Beyond RGB: Cat’s Eye
  • Beyond RGB: Cat’s Eye
  • Beyond RGB: Cat’s Eye
  • Which are the most memorable?
  • Fireworks Galaxy Vela remnant Orion ComplexIC 1396 Fornax A W49bCosmic Micro. BG Helix Nebula Einstein Cross Which are the most memorable?
  • Garish? Beautiful? Memorable Images. http://fromearthtotheuniverse.org
  • Color has meaning…but whose meaning is important?
  • Studying the public’s perception and understanding of astronomicalimagery across multiple traditional and non-traditional venues andplatforms, including mobile and web platforms.Research questions:• How much do variations in presentation of color, explanation, andscale affect comprehension of astronomical images?• What are the differences between various populations (experts,novices, students) in terms of what they learn from the images?• What misconceptions do the non-experts have about astronomy andthe images they are exposed to?Does presentation have an effect – whether aesthetic or in terms oflearning? Aesthetics & Astronomy research
  • • Providing context for the image is critical to comprehension.• Experts prefer text that is shorter/to the point; novices prefernarrative expository style to accompany image.• A sense of scale with the images is helpful for comprehensionat all levels of expertise.• Experts and novices view the images differently. Novicesbegin with a sense of awe/wonder, and focus first on theaesthetic qualities. Experts wonder how the image wasproduced, what information is being presented in the image,and what the creators of the image wanted to convey.• Experts are much more likely to view blue as hot than arenovices; about 80% of novices see red as hot compared to60% of experts.Results of study available in Journal of Science Communication & inCAPJournal. See also http://astroart.cfa.harvard.edu/ Outcomes of A&A
  • Our image of our place in the Universe: Center
  • Our image of our place in the Universe: Okay, Sun=center
  • Hey! Overhere! It’s me, Pluto! The 9? Planets
  • Our image of our place in the Universe=Center of Galaxy?
  • Nope. There is no center of the Universe.And not only that but we (the material we’re made of) are but “a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck” of what the Universe is… Our image of our place in the Universe=Center of Universe at least??!
  • Like the jelly beans in this jar, theUniverse is mostly dark: about 96percent consists of dark energy(about 70%) and dark matter (about26%). Only about 4 percent (thesame proportion as the lightercolored jelly beans) of theUniverse—including the stars,planets and us—is made of familiaratomic matter. No image? We can still use color 
  • kkowal@cfa.harvard.eduTwitter: @kimberlykowalhttp://yourtickettotheuniverse.com