Many times have I gazed upon this galaxy on the Hubble website or in various images by amateur astrophotographers. It’s an amazing galaxy with these tremendous red flows of hydrogen from the core and it’s big and beautiful. This mosaic was originally created by the Hubble team to celebrate the telescope’s 16th anniversary in 2006. I decided to attempt it and here is the result.
I was very surprised to discover the hydrogen filaments are a lot wispier and more delicate than I thought they were. Most images of M82 are processed to bring out maximum details in the filaments. I chose to forgo that effort because I enjoy subtlety and the smoothness of all the stars without the aggressive contrast manipulation. The result of this is, of course, a less eye-catching image. I don’t mind.
The high level science product (HLSP) available in the archive already had most of the mosaic put together, but for whatever reason the corners were cut off. I assembled the two corners on the left side but got tired of it and didn’t do the lower right. If you do all the corners you can create a slightly wider view of the galaxy like this, which is kind of cool for desktop wallpapers and things like that, even if it doesn’t add much to the composition.
Larger sizes are available at my Flickr gallery. Flickr had issues with the original size so if you choose to view the original, keep in mind it is reduced by 70%. That is still nearly 8000 pixels wide.
Red: hlsp_heritage_hst_acs-wfc_m82_f814w_v1_sci_sci + hlsp_heritage_hst_acs-wfc_m82_f658n_v1_sci_sci
North is NOT up. It is 50° counter-clockwise from up.
Hubble data is public domain, but I put a lot of work into combining it into beautiful color images. The minimal credit line should read: NASA / ESA / J. Schmidt
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.