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Nebula - What does it look like in reality?

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#1 mooeypoo


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Posted 13 December 2007 - 04:43 AM


I love looking at space photos, I can do that all day, and ever since galaxyzoo.com opens, I'm having a hard time disconnecting from it. Really. Space is amazing.

But I was thinking. Most of the known photos of Nebulas in particular (but a lot of other stellar phenomena) are colored artificially.

From my understanding, some of the artificial colors are from the medium (like, X-ray filters or ultra-violet filters, etc) and some are just dyed by astrophysics computer programs.

So.. I was wondering.. if I was to take a space shuttle next to a Nebula -- what will I see from the view port? Will it even have color? Can that dust *truly* reflect light? (I read somewhere that although from far away it seems like a 'bulk' of dust, it's actually quite spacey.. no pun intended ;) )

Will we even "notice" it? And what will it look like inside a Nebula?

Thanks in advance :)

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#2 Reaper


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Posted 13 December 2007 - 05:50 AM

Nebula are mostly gray or black if you look at it with the naked eye, and some are invisible. For example, try looking at the Orion Nebula, which is gray to the naked eye. But yes, you are right that the "colors" are just artificial, so that we can detect or analyse them much better.

If we were to fly in one, it depends on the color of it. I suspect it will probably be pitch black (to our eyes anyway) if you go in too deep, unless you go near a collapsing mass.
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#3 Edtharan



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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:19 AM

Also our eyes are not very good at picking up colours in low light conditions. When looking at a nebula with the naked eye, you are not getting much light so any colours that are there we can't usually see. Many of the "Real Colour" (as opposed to the false colour images), make adjustments for the poor abilities of our eyes and tweak the colours that are there so that we can see them.

One way that they can do this is by taking 3 different images. The first with a Red filter, the Second with a Green filter and the Last with a Blue filter. They then re-composite (it used to be photogrammatically, but now days they use digital image manipulation) adjusting the strengths of them to match what our eyes can see, and also changing the ratios between the colours strengths as our eyes don't see all frequencies equally.

Basically, they make adjustments so that when we look at the image, it would be as if our eyes were perfect image receivers looking at the nebula through a telescope.
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