Latest Work

Hello, I am trying something new with my website. I mostly tend to my Flickr gallery at this point, so to reduce the upkeep and redundancy, I am using the Flickr API to pull my latest images straight from my gallery over there. Clicking on any image will simply take you to its page within my Flickr gallery (external link).

A categorical listing of work, separated into albums, is located here (external link).

NGC 6000

NGC 6000

A picturesque spiral galaxy perhaps most notable for being the 6000th entry in the New General Catalog. Hubble has looked at this galaxy a few times for stellar and galactic surveying, but never specifically because there is anything about this galaxy that makes it interesting on its own. Beautiful, but typical. I will say that the small, bright spiral in the nucleus amuses me. If I were to turn it 180°, it would be a 6, which would be fitting for it since it is NGC 6000. However, I think that would look "upside-down" if there is such a thing for galaxies.

There is an asteroid trail somewhere in this picture.

The chip gap was filled with cloned data. The image has clarity, sharpness, and saturation adjustments.

Data from Proposal 15166 were used to create this image.
Continuing a Snapshot Survey of the Sites of Recent, Nearby Supernovae: Cycles 25 & 26

Red: WFC3/UVIS F814W
Green: Pseudo
Blue: WFC3/UVIS F555W

North is NOT up. It is 60.43° clockwise from up.

Green Pea Illustration

Green Pea Illustration

An attempt to visualize what a green pea galaxy might look like if we could see one up close. Hubble recently took an observation of one, and it left me a tad dissatisfied. Did you know that there is no nearby example of a green pea galaxy, or anything even similar? Actually, these tiny smudges are considered nearby compared to, say, something twice as far away. What I mean is they are small enough and far enough away that we can’t see any details. They are near enough to do spectroscopy though, which tells us a lot about them.

I decided to illustrate how I thought it might look, but my first try needed some modification. After a brief Twitter exchange, Drs. Sangeeta Malhortra and William Keel set me in the right direction. Hate on Twitter all you want, but it’s sometimes very useful!

I used a combination of clone stamp painting for the star clusters and free airbrushing with my pen tablet for the green clouds/streamers. The base galaxy I modified was a real dwarf galaxy I processed a while back:

There’s a really great figure in this paper showing some pea galaxy details! They are still quite small and fuzzy, but some of the tendrils can be seen in some of them.

Data from Gems of the Galaxy Zoos inspired this work. Specifically, observations jds42kcfq and jds42kceq. The original observed galaxy takes up about 21x31 pixels on the detector.

If this was a real observation, it would probably use a combination of wideband near-infrared, visible green, and near-UV filters along with narrowband H-alpha and [OIII] filters.

North is technically 136.53° clockwise from up.

Jupiter's Red Spot and Europa

Jupiter's Red Spot and Europa

The Great Red Spot is still kinda great, but it’s getting smaller and smaller as time wears on. At some point it may just be a regular red spot. Still, it remains a striking feature, and it is nice that it was facing the telescope when these observations were taken.

Bright, icy Europa is just about finished transiting the impressively sized planet and can be seen near the top.

This image represents how Jupiter looked on 2017-07-11
at 09:47:16 UTC. It is composed using three images which were taken a few minutes apart. Individual frames were warped to align cloud tops and Europa with the Red (F631N) channel. This is an approximately visible light image.

Sharpening and clarity adjustments were made, but saturation is unmodified. Jupiter is quite colorful in these filters! The blue light scattering is a little more apparent here because F395N is what the human eye considers as "violet" and that light is scattered a bit more than "blue" light.

Data from the following proposal comprise this image:
Wide Field Coverage for Juno (WFCJ): Jupiter’s 2D Wind Field and Cloud Structure

Red: WFC3/UVIS F631N
Green: WFC3/UVIS F502N
Blue: WFC3/UVIS F395N

Galactic Super Smear

Galactic Super Smear

Here we have a spectacular example of strong gravitational lensing with a background galaxy forming a nearly complete ring through the lens of a massive foreground cluster. There are four repetitions of the same galaxy, much like the famous Einstein Cross, except a galaxy is an extended object, and therefore it forms a nice ring.

Sorry about the fuzzy appearance when it’s zoomed in. The IR data has about 1/3 of the resolution of the UVIS data, so I scaled the IR up to match.

Hat tip to Dustin Lang spotting this and Observing Monkey over on Twitter for pointing this out to me.

You may wish to follow Professor Jha to find out when he publishes his paper on this system!

Data from the following proposal were used to create this image:
Rings within Rings: High Resolution Imaging of a Spectacular Gravitational Lens
(I couldn’t agree more with the title for that proposal abstract!)

Red: WFC3/IR F160W
Green: WFC3/UVIS F775W
Blue: WFC3/UVIS F555W

North is 26.33° counter-clockwise from up.

Saturn in Methane Bands

Saturn in Methane Bands

Well, here’s a thing that was unexpectedly well-received over at my Twitter account. Originally I posted it as an amusing joke, but people loved it, so I finished processing it by getting rid of all the cosmic rays and trying to align the disturbances in some of the clouds near the north pole.

Why are the rings neon green, you ask? This is just how the colors end up looking when I try to white balance the cloud tops of Saturn in a given set of narrowband filters specifically designed to single out certain aspects of methane. In all of these filters, the rings are very bright; in fact the rings are so bright that they are lightly saturated (filled to completely white) in some places. However, Saturn’s clouds were very dark in the middle filter, which goes in the green channel, so when I tried to brighten the clouds to match with the red and the blue channels, the rings changed from their normally bright, whiteish color to a fluorescent green.

Bright moons visible in the image include Mimas at the lower left, Enceladus at the upper right, and Tethys at the middle right. There are also two faint moons just barely visible, both very close to the rings: Janus near the top of the rings, and Epimetheus centered at the bottom of the rings. I am not 100% sure that they are them, but given their positions and relative brightness to one another, this is my best guess.

These observations were originally taken on 2015 June 29 to study the storms, which were spotted by tireless amateur astronomers, near the northern pole. You may recall that Cassini was still operating at that time. However, the probe was not positioned optimally to capture the disturbances immediately, and it was worried that they would be largely missed. Hubble’s Director’s Discretionary budget was utilized to take the imagery relatively quickly. Presumably this means someone else’s observations were partially cancelled or pushed around since Hubble’s schedule is packed tightly, but this is how the cookie crumbles.

A New Disturbance in Saturn’s North Sub-Polar Region

This image is scaled by 200% of its original resolution and then an unsharp mask was applied for sharpening.

Green: WFC3/UVIS FQ889N
Blue: WFC3/UVIS FQ727N

Hubble's Lagoon in Visible & Near-Infrared

Hubble's Lagoon in Visible & Near-Infrared

Another version of the anniversary dataset, this time with visible and near-infrared imagery combined into a single image. The pinks and cyans in the visible light version give way for near-infrared wavelengths by shifting into greens and deep blues. Now the near-infrared wavelengths comprise all the reds and oranges of the image. The gas and dust fade like ghosts, becoming nearly transparent, revealing many hundreds of stars once hidden from view.

One of my favorite things to do is to combine unusual or complicated datasets together.

ps - The original news release for the near-infrared only image is here, just in case you missed it.

Data from the following proposal comprises this image:
ptical and infrared imaging of the Lagoon Nebula (M8)

There is also a WOW page providing direct access to data:
STScI Outreach Imaging of M8 (Lagoon Nebula) - April 2018

Red: WFC3/IR F160W
Orange: WFC3/IR F125W
Yellow-Green: WFC3/UVIS F658N
Green-Blue: WFC3/UVIS F656N
Cyan: WFC3/UVIS F547M
Blue: WFC3/UVIS F502N

North is NOT up. It is 133.99° clockwise from up.

Hubble's Lagoon

Hubble's Lagoon

Having fun with the anniversary data. The original observations were mostly narrowband, but I thought it would be fun to hack it a bit and give it a wideband look. Takes the focus away from the color patterns to allow one’s mind to appreciate the weight and shape of the structures more easily.

ps - The original news release image is here, just in case you missed it.

Data from the following proposal comprises this image:
ptical and infrared imaging of the Lagoon Nebula (M8)

There is also a WOW page providing direct access to data:
STScI Outreach Imaging of M8 (Lagoon Nebula) - April 2018

Red: WFC3/UVIS F658N
Orange: WFC3/UVIS F656N
White: WFC3/UVIS F547M
Cyan: WFC3/UVIS F502N

North is NOT up. It is 133.99° clockwise from up.

Parallel Lagoon

Parallel Lagoon

Hubble’s recent 28th anniversary observations also included some parallel observations which were not part of the photo release. I’m totally here for that.

In this image, reddish, orange light represents mostly gaseous emission of energized hydrogen atoms, and muted, blueish gray areas are largely reflected starlight. This combination of light results in an image quality I am very fond of, but I must confess it took me a very long time to understand it beyond oooh, pretty. Once one understands that parts of the clouds are emitting light, while other parts are simply reflecting light, the shapes and coloration begin to make more sense. They are not very different in some ways from water clouds seen on Earth, but our water clouds are most frequently seen reflecting the Sun’s light, and not ever emitting their own light.

Interestingly, there are only two filters available to work with for the parallel observations. I wrongly guessed that the same filters used in the primary observations would end up being used in parallel. I don’t know why.

The proposal for these data is here:
Optical and infrared imaging of the Lagoon Nebula (M8)

Orange: ACS/WFC F658N
Cyan: ACS/WFC F550M

North is merely 1.05° counter-clockwise from up.

Circinus Galaxy

Circinus Galaxy

The Circinus Galaxy is an active spiral galaxy that lies near the plane of our Milky Way so that it is rather heavily obscured by intervening stars and whatever other gas and dust lies along our line-of-sight to it. The brightly glowing filaments are yellowish this time because I had two (!) sets of narrowband filters to work with instead of just one or none. Previously, my other images showed them as blue. In reality, I think they are likely a slight greenish color, but the coloration of such things as they might appear to our eyes is unimportant and an unrealistic expectation to have, as fun as it may be to consider.

What I was pleased to see here is the stark contrast in features between the H-alpha and [O III] emission features. The H-alpha features, presented here in red, which are commonly associated with star formation, are present in both star-forming areas and the light cones of the active nucleus. The [O III] features, presented in green, are present almost exclusively in the light cones. This intersection results in a yellow color, clearly illustrating the difference between light-emitting nebulas.

This was a difficult dataset to work with not only because of that, but because there were not very observations available. What images were there are also not rectangular or square in shape, but rather are the stairstep shape of the old WFPC2 camera. There were a few gaps and especially problematic were the yellowish filaments, because they were abruptly cut off.

Regarding the filaments: I was debating exactly how to show the entire nucleus without having the awkward cutoff, and finally arrived at a conclusion that is as far away from fictional as I could get it. Because the wideband data also overlaps with the narrowband data, I was able to recover the last of the details that were cut off and accurately portray the structure as it should appear in a whole image. I confirmed this later by comparing it to some ESO data. The image halfway down this page shows them in whole in blue:

Some areas of the image contain cloned data because there were coverage gaps. I have uploaded am image with no cloned data to illustrate those areas:

Data from the following proposals were used to create this image:
The Far-Field Hubble Constant
The Early Evolution of Local Group Dwarf Irregular Galaxies
The Origin of Gaseous Outflows in Active Galaxies

Gray: WFPC2 F606W, WFPC2 F814W
Red overlay: WFPC2 F656N
Green overlay: WFPC2 F502N

North is up.

Active Nucleus of NGC 5643

Active Nucleus of NGC 5643

This image is intended to show the details around the central black hole of NGC 5643. Visible in blueish hues is a cone of light emanating from the bright nucleus. Though black holes are known for being so massive that not even light can escape them, they also power processes around them that create some of the brightest phenomena known to astronomers. This light is so intense that it is causing gas to glow many hundreds of light years away from the black hole. The disk of the galaxy is obscuring the rear facing cone of light, but I think I see a little bit of blue peeking out at the upper right.

Peter Maksym’s narrowband data coming out of its proprietary period at the end of 2018 should allow for an even clearer, more stunning image to be created. Funny enough, most of the data comprising this image were taken a few months afterward, but Adam Riess’s observations have no proprietary period for reasons that are not totally clear to me.

An image showing a much wider view of the galaxy is available here:

Data from the following proposals were used to compose this image:
The Hubble Constant to 1%: Physics beyond LambdaCDM
The Fueling of Active Nuclei: Why are Active Galaxies Active?

Red: WFC3/IR F160W
Green: WFC3/UVIS F814W
Blue: WFC3/UVIS F555W

North is NOT up. It is 31.91° counter-clockwise from up.

There are more pictures at my Flickr Gallery (external link)