And the Winner Is…

The incredible images below are of deep space taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and would have never been seen if it wasn’t for the hard work of dedicated amateurs.

With over a million observations since the Hubble’s launch 22 years ago, many of its most striking images have laid dorment in the Space Telescopes data vaults.

That was until the ESA (European Space Agency) opened them up to the public, and invited skywatchers to delve into the archives and search for the hidden treasures the scientists missed – and offered prizes for the most striking images.

The ESA said: “Hubble has made over a million observations since launch, but only a small proportion are attractive images — and an even smaller number are ever actually seen by anyone outside the small groups of scientists that publish them. But the vast amount of data in the archive means that there are still many hundreds of beautiful images scattered among the valuable, but visually unattractive, scientific data that have never been enjoyed by the public. We call these pictures Hubble’s hidden treasures, and a few months ago, we invited the public to look through Hubble’s science archive to help us find them. The response was impressive, with almost 3000 submissions. More than a thousand of these images were fully processed: a difficult and time-consuming task.”

Now the ESA has awarded prizes to the top ten entries in two categories: those that were processed and those that were simply picked out from the hundreds of thousands of images available.

“We call these pictures Hubble’s hidden treasures, and a few months ago, we invited the public to look through Hubble’s science archive to help us find them. The response was impressive, with almost 3000 submissions. More than a thousand of these images were fully processed: a difficult and time-consuming task.”

Now the ESA has awarded prizes to the top ten entries in two categories: those that were processed and those that were simply picked out from the hundreds of thousands of images available.

The first prize in the processed category, which asked entrants to painstakingly optimize images to highlight the visual beauty hidden in the scientific data, went to Josh Lake from the U.S.

He submitted a stunning image of NGC 1763, part of the N11 star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which he optimized to create a bold two-color image which contrasts the light from glowing hydrogen and nitrogen.

“The image is not in natural colors — hydrogen and nitrogen produce almost indistinguishable shades of red light that our eyes would struggle to tell apart,” the ESA said.

“But Josh’s processing separates them out into blue and red, dramatically highlighting the structure of the region.” For his efforts he was sent a whole range of prizes, including an iPad.

Andre van der Hoeven, of the Netherlands, came a close second in the jury vote with an ‘highly attractive’ image of the spiral galaxy Messier 77, which the ESA said was, “an impressive piece of image processing, combining a number of datasets from separate instruments into one amazing picture.”

Andre said: “Well, this was my hardest job until now. Combining the different datasets to get equal colors was really hard. M77 was not fully covered by one dataset, so I had to combine channels of the WFPC2 with different wavelengths and tune the colors to get them to fit. But the result is in my opinion quite astonishing.” Unbelievable this one was not released before.

Third prize in the hotly contested category went to Judy Schmidt, also of the U.S., for her picture of XZ Tauri, a newborn star spraying out gas into its surroundings and lighting up a nearby cloud of dust.

This was jury’s favorite, the ESA said, adding that it, “was a challenging dataset to process, as Hubble only captured two colors in this area. Nevertheless, the end result is an attractive image, and an unusual object that we would never have found without her help.”

Robert Gendler, Fifth Prize, Messier 96

Renaud Houdinet, Forth Prize, Chamaeleon I

Judy Schmidt, Third Prize, Star XZ Tauri

Andre van der Hoeven, Second Prize, Messier 77

Josh Lake, First Prize, NGC1763

Attribution: Daily Mail

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About thecommonconstitutionalist

Brent is not a scholar. He’s not an author or speaker (yet). He hasn’t published a book nor does he write articles for magazines (yet). He has no advanced literary degree or pedigree (never will). He is just an American who writes and shares what interests him. He cares about the salvation of this country and a return to its Constitutional roots. He believes in God, country and family.
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