Touring the Tarantula

By Phil Plait | January 5, 2007 4:37 pm

Dr. Henri Boffin, Deputy Head of the ESO Public Affairs Department, emailed me recently. He thanked me for putting the Tarantula nebula image in my Top Ten Images of 2006 post! Dr. Bob Fosbury, co-creator of the image, also sent me an email thanking me. Wow! It turns out Bob and I have many mutual friends, some of whom will be at the AAS meeting I’m attending starting tomorrow, so I’ll have to get some gossip on him. More realistically, I’m curious about how you put together a 256 Mb image and not choke your computer to death — astronomical images tend to have a lot of support files needed; typically the data image is only 10% of the total space needed. They must have broken it down into many pieces.

Henri also told me they made a movie of a "flyover" of the nebula, and it’s pretty fun to watch. The gas clouds trick my eye into thinking they are like mountains and valleys, with the stellar background providing a flat surface against which the clouds provide elevation. That’s a very odd effect. Anyway, the movie is 27 Mb, but that’s still only 10% of the whole image size. ;-)

Comments (6)

  1. The barber of civility

    Huh. That’s pretty damn cool!

    By the way, who else saw Phil’s face in the clouds? It looks like he’s laying down on pillows. It happens just as the ship we’re in (poetic license) takes a turn to the right.

    I don’t believe Science will ever fail to awe me.

  2. The barber of civility

    The image occurs just when the nebula changes from pink to white.

  3. Kaptain K

    “Anyway, the movie is 27 Mb”

    Thanks for the warning. Sorry, not on dial up, I won’t :(

  4. Rowsdower

    Way cool! I kept waiting to hear William Shatner’s voice over: Space, the final frontier.

  5. Gary Ansorge

    Ah yes, the eight legged aliens from the tarantula nebula wish to send their regards bu transmitting a pic of Phil. Oh, wait, that would mean they had to do that, how long ago? Gee, maybe it’s just a burst of gas,,,I’m quite familiar with that problem,,,

    Way cool pic. Think I’ll print and hang it on the wall,,,

    GAry 7

  6. Slash

    That wasn’t Phil.

    It was Jesus. Or possibly the Virgin Mary. Or, maybe, a cheese sandwich.

    But not Phil.

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