QuicktimeMPEG http://chandra.si.edu). We developed OpenFITS several years ago with the intent of giving you a behind the scenes look at how we create our colorful images of the universe, but also to put the power into your hands to create those images yourself, using raw data and tutorials on how to combine those data to make color images.
We're excited to announce that we've now added multiwavelength data to our OpenFITS collection. Under the multiwavelength data link, you'll see that there are twenty new images; each one has multiple wavelengths of light available in FITS file format. We've removed some of the stumbling blocks towards creating an image like this by providing data that has already been calibrated, intensity scaled, and plate solved, so that all you need to do is combine these data in the image processing platform of your choice and apply color.
Today, I would like to step through our new tutorial on creating a multiwavelength composite image of M101 using GIMP. At the top of the tutorial page, you will see the links to download the data. This is a Great Observatories image combining Chandra X-ray data, with GALEX ultraviolet, Hubble optical and Spitzer infrared. Now I've already downloaded these data, but for yourself, you will need to right click, and "download file as" to save the data. Next, we will bring up GIMP and open the files as layers in a single GIMP document. We do this using "File->Open As Layers", selecting the four FITS files that we've downloaded, and using the default settings for opening a FITS file in GIMP. Now each image has opened as a layer in a single document.
Before we can apply color to this image, we need to first change the "Image Mode" from "Grayscale" to "RGB". Next we need to allow the layers to show through and to do this, we need to change the "Layer Mode" for each layer from "Normal" to "Screen". By doing that to the infrared layer, I'm now allowing the optical layer underneath to show through. We will apply this change to the optical and UV layers as well.
At this point, we've reached step 4 of the tutorial. Now, as I mentioned in the beginning of the tutorial, these images have already been intensity scaled and calibrated so you really do not need to adjust levels unless you decide you want to. For now, we will skip to step 5, adding color. Starting with the infrared layer, we're going to use the tool "Colors->Colorize" to give the infrared layer a nice red color. A "Hue" value of 0, a "Saturation" of 100, and a "Lightness" of -50 will do this for us. Next, we want to give the optical layer a yellowish-green color. A "Hue" value of 65 works well here, and again a "Saturation" of 100 and "Lightness" of -50. The UV layer, we're going to colorize blue: a "Hue" value of 200, "Saturation" of 100 and "Lightness" of -50. And finally, the X-ray layer, we want to colorize as magenta. A Hue value of about 300 works well here.
And there you have it! In under 5 minutes, we've been able to re-create the Chandra press release image of M101: The Great Observatories image. To finish the image off, we can use "Image->Flatten Image" to create a flattened version and then save it out to the format of our choice. Please explore the twenty new images that we've added to our multiwavelength data collection. If you like what you've created, feel free to share your images on our Facebook page. And, thanks for tuning in!
But who does the work that enables these computers to fit into our daily lives? Who gets to learn how to code? A project called "Hour of Code" as well as Computer Science Education Week is seeking to address that question by increasing access to coding opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students. The Hour of Code project is particularly interested in getting more girls and all students from underrepresented people of color involved in coding.
Here at the Chandra X-ray Center, we have tried to be as active as possible in expanding the pool of students who go into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as "STEM." The inclusion of computer science to this list seemed like an excellent idea, so we gladly signed up for the "Hour of Code" project.
The Chandra X-ray Center has joined forces with other members of the astronomical community, including an astronomer at the American Astronomical Society, others at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, as well as partners at Google's CS First and Pencil Code, to create a project for the "Hour of Code" that combines color, astronomy, and coding.
Working with NASA and other data from exploded stars, to star-forming regions, to the area around black holes, students learn basic coding (for beginners - no experience required) and follow a video tutorial to create a real world application of science, technology and even art.
Kimberly Arcand directs visualizations and other communications projects at the Chandra X-ray Center, and she led Chandra's contribution to the project. She explains why she feels projects like "Hour of Code" are so important.
Here at Chandra, we get to explore the Universe and computers help us do that. I use coding and computers to help tell stories about science, whether that story takes the form of an image of a galaxy, or a 3 dimensional printable model of an exploded star, or a simple program that lets people see a cluster of young stars in different kinds of light.
Computer science allows anyone to create new things and solve problems. Coding isn't just important in astronomy, but all fields of science. I want to help make sure that anyone can feel like coding and computer science is possible for them. Projects such as the "Hour of Code" and "Pencil Code" can help make that a reality.
By enabling students to use real data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, along with other astronomical data, this project helps show just how integral coding is in the pursuit of learning about our Universe. We hope it's an example of the exciting ways that computer science - from routine tasks in our everyday lives to the extraordinary quest to explore the cosmos - is part of it all.
The Chandra Data Archive plays a central role in the mission by enabling the astronomical community - as well as the general public - access to data collected by the observatory. The primary role of the CDA is to store and distribute data, which the CDA does with the help of powerful search engines. The archive is one of the legacies of the Chandra mission that will serve both the scientific community and the public for decades to come.
To celebrate and support American Archive Month, we have selected images from a group of eight objects in the Chandra archive to be released to the public for the first time. These images - including supernova remnants, stellar nurseries, and galaxies -- represent the observations of thousands of objects that are permanently available to the world thanks to Chandra's archive.
Related Chandra Images:
- Photo Album: Chandra Archive Collection
Related Chandra Images:
- Photo Album: Chandra Archive Collection
On a smaller scale, bees are involved with seeding as they moving from flower to flower and gather nectar to feed their hive. By transporting pollen grains from a flower's male parts to female parts of the same species, the bees pollinate and fertilize the flower and enable it to reproduce. In fact, pollination by bees and other animals is crucial to the production of most of the fruits, nuts, and berries on which people and wildlife depend. What's more, about 150 of the crops grown in the United States - including blueberries, apples, oranges, squash, tomatoes and almonds - require the help from pollinating insects and birds.
There is also seeding taking place on a much bigger stage - a cosmic one. When giant stars run out of fuel and collapse, they can explode in what astronomers call supernova explosions. These supernovas spread elements such as oxygen, iron, calcium, and many others into the environment around the exploded star. While these may not sound like "seeds" as we know them on Earth, they are in fact, key ingredients that will be swept up by future generations of stars and planets. It is through this process that the Earth acquired the elements that we require for life here on our planet. On average, a star explodes as a supernova about once every 50 years in our Milky Way galaxy. When it does, it can release more than a billion times the oxygen found in the Earth's oceans and atmosphere combined.
So it is clear how seeding can be important to plants and animals here on Earth, but keep an open mind to how this process has a role throughout the Universe. The growth of new structures - no matter where they are found - often depends on the introduction of new material into an environment. And this seeding can occur here, there, and everywhere in nature, through many different agents and on every scale imaginable.
Imagine you are shuffling along a carpet and reach out to touch the doorknob, and -- zap! - you get a mild shock. What's happened is the friction between your feet and the carpet has produced a large build-up of negative electric charge on your finger. This creates what is known as electric potential difference, or voltage, between your finger and the doorknob. If the electric potential difference is large enough, a sudden flow of current, called an electric discharge, will occur. While this can be in the form of a zap to your finger, it also happens on much larger scales in many different places. In fact, violent electric discharges are responsible for some of the most spectacular displays of sudden energy releases on Earth and in space.
Let's take a look at one other example that you might have come across in say, an auto body shop or at a construction site. Between a welder's tool and metal, there is a large electric voltage. This causes sparks to fly and ultimately for a strong electric current to flow. In turn, this generates a brilliant light display and enough heat to melt the metal and allow it to bond to another metallic surface.
There are patterns of beauty across our Earth and throughout the Universe. We've compared X-ray images taken of objects in space with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with aerial photographs taken from a helicopter by the artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand. These images may raise questions like: What is science? What is art? How do the two overlap and differ?
For example, here we see a flock of flamingos on the salty water of Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Compare this to the hot gas seen in the collision of two galaxy clusters, one of the most energetic events since the Big Bang.
The speed of an object is defined as the distance it will travel in a certain amount of time. If something travels 100 feet in 10 seconds, its speed is 10 feet per second. We often talk about speeds in miles per hour in the US, or kilometers per hour in most other parts of the world.
Speeds are fun to talk about because they are easy to compare - just like the tortoise and the hare. For example, we know the fastest animal on land is the cheetah. It can reach speeds of 70 miles an hour. In the air, a Peregrine falcon is the fastest, clocking in at nearly 200 miles per hour at its top speed.
While this sounds really fast to us - and it is for humans - it's actually very slow when we compare it to, say, objects in space. For example, let's look at how fast the Earth moves around the Sun. Remember, it takes the Earth one year to make one orbit around the Sun. With this distance being 580 million miles, this means that the Earth moves on average at a speed of some 67,000 miles per hour through space.