- Art by Judy Schmidt

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Note: For the latest Hubble processing, try my Flickr gallery. My website is updated less often.

Lagoon Cocoon (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Lagoon Cocoon

Followed through with this one and I am sure glad I did. The left side had a good deal of cosmic rays to clean off but it was worth it.

I couldn’t help with the alliteration in the title. The dark molecular clouds are fleeting structures surrounding the young stars which are pushing and pushing away at it. Eventually it will diffuse into the interstellar medium and the stars will have cleared away their dusty cocoon.

A lot got cropped off in order to fit the data into a nice rectangle. An uncropped PNG version is available here.

Filters did not neatly fall into color channels due to the usual complexities. Two WFPC2 datasets were used. One was from 1995 and the other from 2009.

This image is comprised of broadband infrared (f814w), narrowband H-alpha (f656n) and H-beta (f487n), and Strömgren y (f547m) data.

Red+Blue: f814w
Red+Green: f656n
Green+Red: f547m
Blue+Green: f487n

North is NOT up. It is 36.5° counter-clockwise from up.

Dusty Lagoon (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Dusty Lagoon

This is just a great old dataset from 1995 that I knew I had to try once I spotted it. There are no less than 8 separate filters available to play around with and half of them also have offset data available so that you can easily clean up seams and other artifacts.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who simply enjoys processing astro images. It can easily be found in the HLA by searching for HD164740. Expand the search radius and there are some more images you might think of including.

I am going to try a second version which will hopefully provide a view with less black squares but there are less filters to choose from so it may not work out so well.

A HubbleSite article on this is available here. One of the press release images is annotated which is very useful for understanding what is being presented.

Colors are roughly represented by the following list. I used f673n on a 55% opacity luminosity layer to elucidate further details and calm down the intensity of the brightest region a little.

Red: f814w + f673n + f658n
Green: f656n + f547m
Blue: f502n + f487n

North is NOT up. It is 55.7° clockwise from up.

ESO 115-021 (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

ESO 115-021

I want to say this is a dwarf elliptical. Sure is flat, though. It’s also quite a bit denser in the lower right part. Galaxy classification sometimes vexes me. It’s easy to see individual stars throughout the galaxy.

Full disclosure: I cloned data to fill in the chip gap which ran straight down the middle of the image.

Red: HST_10210_08_ACS_WFC_F814W_sci
Green: Pseudo
Blue: HST_10210_08_ACS_WFC_F606W_sci

North is up.

Extreme NGC 3125 (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Extreme NGC 3125

This irregular blob of a galaxy has some serious star formation going on. The star cluster slightly up and to the right of center is the one referenced in this proposal as ‘The Most Extreme Wolf-Rayet Star Cluster Known in the Local Universe’ by Dr. Rupali Chandar. Watch her talking about her findings regarding star clusters in general here. They talk about the HLA at the end! I am dubious about ever making a discovery that forever changes the way we view the universe as is used for a closing statement, but yeah, the HLA is pretty sweet.

Anyway, if you dare, you can attempt to read a paper on NGC 3125-A1 here. If not, I will roughly translate it for you in a single sentence: Hot diggity dang, there’s a lot of ionized helium there.

Some things to point out: The fuzzy, white “stars” dotting the edges of the galaxy are actually globular clusters, so that gives you a better sense for the scale of the galaxy. It’s not a huge galaxy but the the star formation is raging as can be inferred by the red filaments of H-alpha which virtually encompass the whole thing and the usual accompanying hot, young, blue stars. Annotation of star cluster locations is here, which I made by referencing the paper I mentioned earlier.

This picture features wideband infrared, green, blue, and ultraviolet filters along with the lovable H-alpha filter. Note I did use the F814W filter across all three channels but mostly it inhabits the red along with the H-alpha.

Red: HST_10400_01_ACS_HRC_F814W_sci + HST_10400_01_ACS_HRC_F658N_sci
Green: HST_10400_01_ACS_HRC_F555W_sci
Blue: HST_10400_01_ACS_HRC_F435W_sci + HST_10400_01_ACS_HRC_F330W_sci

North is NOT up. It is 26.9° counter-clockwise from up.

Supernova Remnant N49 with X-Rays (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Supernova Remnant N49 with X-Rays

I’m still going through some old images that I wanted to include Chandra data for but have only recently learned how. Look here for N49 without x-rays. This time I opted for blue-green to represent x-rays because magenta was already a prominent color in the optical image. It’s harder to conflate the two this way.

I will also simply reference this excellent article which more than adequately explains why this object is interesting to view in high energy wavelengths:


Red: hst_08110_01_wfpc2_f673n_wf_sci + (Lighten) hst_06827_02_wfpc2_f547m_pc_sci
Green: hst_08110_01_wfpc2_f656n_wf_sci + (Lighten) hst_06827_02_wfpc2_f380w_wf_sci
Blue: hst_08110_01_wfpc2_f502n_wf_sci + (Lighten) hst_06827_02_wfpc2_f300w_pc_sci
Blue-green: merged, broad-band (0.5-7.0 keV) data (via OpenFITS)

North is NOT up, but it almost is. It’s only 5.3° counter-clockwise from up.

Ultra-Luminous X-Ray Source in NGC 5408 (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Ultra-Luminous X-Ray Source in NGC 5408

Yes, the wild-looking magenta blob is the x-ray source, as you’ve hopefully already guessed. Previously I complained that I didn’t know how to obtain x-ray data to add to this picture even though I knew it was out there. Well, now I know how! These data were given to me by Joe who I already mentioned in the Vela Pulsar image but he also showed me WebChaSeR which is Chandra’s equivalent to the Hubble Legacy Archive. Anyway, I will be able to disentomb those on my own now (supposedly).

I know that x-ray imagery is strange and foreign with the exception of its uses for broken bones and dentistry but I think it is incredibly important to understand and look at the Universe in with all of the electromagnetic spectrum, not only to further our knowledge but I also have the hope that one day people will be able to appreciate the aesthetics of these invisible light rays. This time it’s just a dot, but it’s no less wonderful than any other point source such as a star. Think of it like a rare and elusive creature. There thousands of stars in this picture but only one bright x-ray source.

Click here to see this image without x-rays.

Red: WFC3/IR F160W + hst_11987_29_wfpc2_f656n_wf_sci
Green: Pseudo
Blue: WFC3/IR F105W
Magenta: merged, broad-band (0.5-7.0 keV) data from 9 observations (via Joseph DePasquale)

North is up.

Vela Pulsar (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Vela Pulsar

Looking through the Chandra Open FITS image album, I picked out the Vela pulsar because it was interesting but it also confused me. I’ve been wanting to combine datasets from other observatories with Hubble’s but until now have had difficulty finding the FITS files. Turns out it’s actually not that hard, especially with resources like Open FITS.

Another roadblock I ran into was figuring out how to align the data since stars are completely invisible in the Chandra data one must rely upon the coordinates from the FITS file headers in order to orient things. I sent an email to the address given on the Open FITS page to inquire about this and obtained a very helpful response from Joe DePasquale, who gave me some simple instructions on how to use SAOImage DS9. DS9 actually makes the alignment thing a no-brainer. This should make things easier for me for a lot of things in the future.

Well, enough about that side quest. The pulsar is the cool thing, here. First, you have to look at this animation of the northwest particle jet (North is up, east is left) waving around like water emitted from a hose. That’s really cool, but when I looked at that article, I was still having a hard time understanding how big the object itself was and whether or not any of it was visible optically. Enter the Hubble data. There are some old WFPC2 pictures in the archive which I put together to give some context with a few stars. The Hubble data doesn’t completely overlap with the Chandra data, but you get the idea.

Another thing which I think is very cool is that there appears to be a shadow cone around the southeast particle jet. I could be misinterpreting what I’m looking at and I can’t seem to find anyone else mentioning this, but I can’t get out of my head how cool it is to see an x-ray shadow. The polar jets and the equatorial structures are reminiscent of some of the light beams and dust tori I’ve seen in pre-planetary nebula images.

Note that I only had F555W (wideband green) data for the stars to work with. I chose to represent this with fiery red coloration. Chandra’s x-ray data is represented by magenta as it often is presented like this in Chandra’s press release images.

North is up.

Andromeda's Extended Clusters (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Andromeda's Extended Clusters

Once again we are faced with objects which defy categorization. These look something like globular clusters but they’re not as compact. They’re kind of like dwarf galaxies, but not quite that, either. No one has found any of these extended clusters anywhere in the Milky Way, so it is thought that because only Andromeda has them that they represent clues to the differing histories of Milky Way and Andromeda.

Anyway, if you are feeling inquisitive, all of this information can be found in this paper which goes into plenty of detail about what they are and where they may have come from.

Using Stellarium, I made a picture showing where the four clusters are located. I knew they were in the outer halo of Andromeda but EC4 is surprisingly far away to me.

There are larger sizes available at my Flickr stream. This one got kind of squished to fit into my website format.

These data all came from this proposal:
Deep imaging of newly discovered globular clusters in the outer halo of M31

Red: ACS/WFC F814W
Green: Pseudo
Blue: ACS/WFC F606W

North is 65° clockwise for all four clusters.

Quasar J1507+3129 (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Quasar J1507+3129

Quasar host galaxies are hard to image. They’re very far away and the quasar itself is very bright. Take a look at 3C 273 and you’ll see what I mean. The quasar’s glow (which astronomers dryly but more accurately refer to as a point spread function) covers up the galaxy itself. Another image in the Wikipedia article shows 3C 273 with the glow subtracted, revealing the galaxy.

Anyway, this one is different. I didn’t have to do that, thankfully. I will point to the quasar. It is not the obvious bright spiral galaxy to the lower right. Look up and to the left of that bright spiral and find the merging galaxies. You can see the quasar itself as a bright point in the right side partition of the colliding masses. There is a lot of dust which is reddening the quasar. Hubble’s view of things like this is not as good as it could be. This is a job for an infrared telescope! With a small amount of luck and the efforts of many scientists and engineers, JWST will perform this task. Maybe even this very quasar will be looked at. It will be interesting to combine the data sets from both Hubble and JWST one day.

Red: ACS/WFC WFC1-1K F814W (j95w11010_drz)
Green: Pseudo
Blue: ACS/WFC WFC1-1K F475W (j95w11020_drz)

North is NOT up. It is 22° clockwise from up.

Massive Galaxy NGC 5322 (Hubble Legacy Archive Processing)

Massive Galaxy NGC 5322

Globular clusters galore dot around this brightest cluster galaxy. You might guess that they are background galaxies and it’s easy to mistake them for that or even a dim foreground star but a good portion of the fuzzy little dots here are globular clusters. If it’s perfectly round, rather bright (but not one of the two big spiky foreground stars), and rather compact, it’s very likely you are looking at a globular cluster.

If you look very closely, you can also see a dusty disk surrounding the very bright nucleus, as well.

Red: HST_9427_09_ACS_WFC_F814W_sci
Green: Pseudo
Blue: HST_9427_09_ACS_WFC_F435W_sci

Additionally, these data were used to fill in some of the chip gap, but not all. The rest of the chip gap was filled with the same data cloning method previously described here.


North is NOT up. It is 3.6° counter-clockwise from up.

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