Stunning 3-D Animations of Hubble’s Universe

The entire universe in blog form
April 3 2014 7:45 AM

Fly Into Hubble’s Universe!

Sharpless 2-106
Sharpless 2-106, a gigantic and spectacular star nursery.

Photo by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The talented astronomical artists at the Space Telescope Science Institute have been pouring the gorgeousness of Hubble pictures into our eyes and brains for years. They recently embarked on a new venture: Taking those same images and, using complementary data to get more information about the objects, creating stunning 3-D animations. Mind you, these are not “real,” but visualizations based on actual data that approximate the view you’d have if you could fly around the Universe at multiple times the speed of light.

Here’s one they made of one of my all-time favorite celestial sites, Sharpless 2-106, the birthplace of a massive star:

Advertisement

Note: I added the notes and the music.

I’ve written about SH 2-106 a few times (see Related Posts below), because it’s a fascinating object as well as one of the most beautiful images Hubble has produced. While this animation isn’t exactly real, it does give you a sense that you’re seeing a huge star that’s carved out tremendous cavities in the surrounding gas. That’s difficult to see in the usual two-dimensional static images, so while these visualizations are in some ways flights of fancy, I think they provide a useful tool to better understand astronomical objects.

There are several more videos like this at hubblesite.org, so I urge you to go take a look. They’re quite lovely.

Related Posts

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.