- Art by Judy Schmidt

VY Canis Majoris Ejecta Shell (2013)

Canis Majoris is one of those stars featured in videos seeking to give us perspective and show us just how massive stars can be. Forget Earth, this star dwarfs our Sun. Actually, forget the Sun too, because this thing dwarfs things that dwarf the Sun. Anyway, you get the point. It’s ginormous as far as stars go. What you see here is the star and it surrounding nebulosity. Even though it’s huge, we still only see it as the tiny bright point of light left of center from our vantage point. How’s that for perspective? All stars, no matter how big, are actually pretty small. Stupid space, so big and always making everything seem so small. Space is a jerk.

I’m very happy with the results for this, too. I tried something different (again) without being sure what the results would be. There is some great, high resolution data in the archive for this object but it’s all taken through polarized filters. I like polarized light images, but I think they may confuse people more than the usual amount that the strange, variable colors of astronomical processing often results in.

To generate an image of not-so-polarized light out of the polarized light images, I figured I could stack them into a single image and it would look about like it was taken without the polarizing filters. I reduced the diffraction spikes with masked curve adjustments. The Airy disk is apparent to the upper left of the star, but it’s hard to do anything about it. Just know there aren’t actually perfect concentric rings around the star.

I ended up using a large pile of files from the archive so I’m not going to list them all here.

Red: F685N Combination of polarized light images
Green: F550M Combination of polarized light images
Blue: hst_10262_01_wfpc2_f410m_pc_sci

North is up.

Copyright information:
Hubble data is public domain. I do, however, request that you credit me for the processing of the image if you use it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.