This is a composite of 7 channels of data. From Hubble, we’ve got wideband blue, mediumband green, and H-alpha, and wideband near-infrared data. From Chandra, we’ve got low, intermediate, and high energy x-rays.
These Hubble data are, in my opinion, some of the most difficult in the archive to process because the object is within such a densely packed region of the Large Magellanic Cloud. I’ve processed them once before with interesting results but I wanted to try again to see if I could get it a bit more natural and I also wanted to take the opportunity to include x-ray data available via openFITS.
The colors undoubtedly look very fantastical and unrealistic to you so I will create a metaphor to help you pretend it is actually realistic. If you were a being capable of seeing in x-rays, you might have a different eye on your head for this purpose rather than a single one. If this x-ray eye could see in color, then the x-rays would be just as colorful as the visible light your familiar set of eyes can see. So imagine you are a cool alien with this extra eye in addition to your two normal eyes and what you see might look something like this.
In fact, you could take color x-rays of your own flesh and bones if it were acceptable and useful to bombard your body with three times as much energy as a black and white x-ray requires and then you would be very familiar with color x-rays. It would be more fun to go to the dentist. Anyway…
The dull, reddish haze comprising the outermost layer of the shell is H-alpha. In some places it is much brighter and creates very detailed shapes. The inner, more energetic part of the shell in nacreous colors are high energy x-rays (blue) to medium (green) and low energy x-rays (red).
X-Ray / Chandra:
Red: 0.3-0.5 keV
Green: 0.5-0.75 keV
Blue: 0.75-7.0 keV
Optical / Hubble:
Red: ACS/WFC F775W + ACS/WFC F658N
Green: ACS/WFC F550M
Blue: ACS/WFC F475W
North is NOT up. It is 39° 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.