Friday, June 24, 2011

Supernova picture! This time with color!

After my nearly one-subject posts the last week or two you guys will probably never want to see another supernova, but I'm quite proud of myself for figuring out how to get color working. I originally thought it was as simple as “put red image in red channel, green image in green channel, blue image in blue channel, et voila!”. Turns out it's not, and I got discouraged when I ended up with a bizarrely colored image looking nothing like what I thought it would. However, it turns out the process is not much more difficult than that, merely requiring iterative manual adjustment of the color curves until it looks the way you want it.

Supernova SN2011dh in M51.
In this picture you can clearly see the spiral arms of M51 outlined by the blue light from hot young stars with dark dust lanes obscuring parts of it, the same kind of dust lanes that are responsible for the dark patches seen in our own Milky Way. I'm not a hundred percent sure about the color balance, but this represents the kinds of color you might be able to see if you could let light accumulate on your retina for 5 minutes at a time, instead of refreshing many times a second.

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