Absolutely Stunning 3-D View of a Cosmic Cloud

Melotte 15 via the Hubble Space Telescope.

To call Finnish astrophotographer J-P Metsävainio a magician is definitely not an exaggeration! Take a look at his latest handiwork, this amazing 3-D animation of Melotte 15 in the Heart Nebula, IC 1805.

Metsävainio has previously produced outstanding images in 3-D the usual way, with stereo pairs and anaglyphs, but his new experimental 3-D work is incredible!

He explained to Universe Today how he created this and other 3-D animations:

Melotte 15. Credit: J-P Metsävainio.
Melotte 15. Credit: J-P Metsävainio.

“My 3-D experiments are a mixture of science and an artistic impression,” he said via email. “I collect distance and other information before I do my 3-D conversion. Usually there are known stars, coursing the ionization, so I can place them at right relative distance. If I know a distance to the nebula, I can fine tune distances of the stars so, that right amount of stars are front and behind of the object.”

He uses a “rule of thumb” method for stars: brighter is closer, but if a real distance is known, he uses that. Many 3-D shapes can be figured out just by looking carefully the structures in nebula, such as dark nebulae must be at front of the emission nebulae in order to show up.

“The general structure of many star forming regions is very same,” Metsävainio explained. “In this image, there is a group of newly born young stars, as an open cluster inside of the nebula. The stellar wind from the stars is then blowing the gas away around the cluster and forming a kind of cavitation – or a hole — around it. The pillar-like formations in the nebula must point to a source of stellar wind, for the same reason.”

For just the observing alone, this image is forty-five 1,200 second exposures (that equals 15 hours!)

He compared his processing workflow to sculpting, and said the result is always an approximate reality.

“How accurate the final model is, depends how much I have known and guessed right,” he said. “The motivation to make those 3-D-studies is just to show, that objects in the images are not like paintings on the canvas but really three dimensional objects floating in the three dimensional space.”

Another reason he creates these time-intensive 3-D animations is because they are fun to do, in addition to the old adage of why we do anything: “Because I can,” he said.

“This generally adds a new dimension to my hobby as an astronomical imager — (Pun intended),” he said.

Here is a link to more of Metsävainio’s 3-D imagery and here is his portfolio website: http://astroanarchy.zenfolio.com/.

Use Red/Cyan 3-D glasses to see this great animation of the Moon.

Thanks to J-P Metsävainio for allowing us to share his images!

Bradbury Landing on Mars Chronicled in 3-D

Image Caption:3-D View from Bradbury Landing- from Navcam cameras.. See the full panorama below. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now you can enjoy the thrills of Curiosity’s touchdown site at Bradbury Landing as if you there – chronicled in stunning 3 D !! Check out this glorious 360-degree stereo panorama just released by JPL.

The pano was assembled by JPL from individual right and left eye images snapped by the rover’s mast mounted navigation cameras on sols 2 and 12 of the mission – Aug. 8 and 18, 2012.

So whip out your handy-dandy, red-blue (cyan) anaglyph glasses and start exploring the magnificent home of NASA’s newest Mars rover inside Gale Crater.

Image Caption: Complete 360 degree Panoramic 3-D View from Bradbury Landing by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The mosaic shows Curiosity’s eventual mountain destination – Mount Sharp – to its visible peak at the right, as well as the eroded rim of Gale Crater and a rover partial self portrait. Curiosity cannot see the actual summit from the floor of Gale Crater at Bradbury landing.

In about a year, the 1 ton behemoth will begin climbing up the side of Mount Sharp – a layered mountain some 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) high that contains deposits of hydrated minerals.

Curiosity will investigate and sample soils and rocks with her powerful suite of 10 state of the art science instruments.

See below JPL’s individual right and left eye pano’s from which the 3-D mosaic was created.

Image Caption: Complete 360 degree Panoramic left eye View from Bradbury Landing by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover – from Navcam cameras. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image Caption: Complete 360 degree Panoramic right eye View from Bradbury Landing by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover- from Navcam cameras. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover has now departed Bradbury landing and begun her long Martian Trek on an easterly path to Glenelg – her first stop designated for a lengthy science investigation.

Glenelg lies at the intersection of three distinct types of geologic terrain.

So far Curiosity has driven 358 feet (109 meters) and is in excellent health.

Ken Kremer