Meticulously Obscure

A Star Is Born (Literally) – In 200MB Jpeg Glory

Actually possibly quite a few stars being born, and a few on their way out too. This is an image NASA released in April 2007, so I’m only a year and a half late on it.

This is the small version of the image, 6,000 pixels wide (for reference your monitor is probably 1,000 wide) and 7MB, so if you click to view it, give it a minute, yeah

This is the "small" version of the image, 6,000 pixels wide (for reference your monitor is probably around 1,000 wide) and 7MB, so if you click to view it, give it a minute, yeah

Created from data taken over a span of 4 years, it shows a region of space 50 light-years across, (meaning the distance light would travel in 50 years (that’s 293,931,268,490,700 miles (that’s 293 trillion (or 293 million million, in retard speak (or a shit load, in pretty-accurate-but-quite-understated speak))))) so it’s rather vast.

To try to give some kind of reference, it’s about 3 million times the distance from the Earth to our Sun, that’s being shown here. Or, about 40 thousand times the size of our entire solar system, which handily means that on the full size image (see below) our solar system takes up almost one pixel. On the “small” version above we’re less than 1/5th of a pixel.

If this all seems rather hard to comprehend, just settle for this, from the late great Douglas Adams:

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Now, I’ve always wondered with deep space imagery, where they get the colours from, and finally have the answer from NASA’s write-up of this image. Red shows high concentrations of sulphur, green hydrogen, and blue oxygen. So now you (or at least, I) know!

The full size image is linked here but if you do feel like loading the full thing for maximum detail, bear in mind it’s 200MB in size and almost 30,000 pixels wide. To open this you want at least 2GB of ram, probably 4 to be safe, your browser probably won’t handle it, and if you’re on windows it might well fall over anyway. Probably worth it, though, if you’re into this sort of thing.

Steve • 21st August 2008


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