Astro-Images | Dust Lanes

I enjoy creating color images from three grayscale images. The post linked here will explain how to create color astronomical images. Visit the gallery of previous Astro-Images at this link.


NGC 660

Much of the universe is populated by dust that does not glow. It obstructs the view of astronomers. The common elements of hydrogen and helium in the regions between stars absorb starlight and re-emit that energy as glowing gas. They form the filaments and veils of nebulae so common in space. Dust, however, blocks the starlight and creates dark lanes in silhouette against the background of starlight. This galaxy below is a good example. We are seeing it from an edge viewpoint. Click to embiggen.


From original grayscales | Hubble Legacy Archive | J. Ruebush


NGC 891

This is a greatly enlarged view of a galaxy very similar to our Milky Way, but seen edge-on. It was discovered by William Herschel on 6 October 1784.  The large amounts of dust in the filaments effectively blocks the visible starlight from the galaxy’s core in the background. The dust makes it very difficult for astronomers to view the structures on the other side.


From original grayscales | Hubble Legacy Archive | J. Ruebush


NGC 986

Sometimes the dust lanes are quite visible even when the view is not edge-on. Here we see a galaxy from directly above. Scottish astronomer James Dunlop discovered this galaxy in 1826. It is about 56 million light years away. The Hubble telescope has very good vision.


From original grayscales | Hubble Legacy Archive | J. Ruebush



19 thoughts on “Astro-Images | Dust Lanes

  1. The pictures are fabulous. I love the one from straight above the galaxy. Even more I love reading when these things were first discovered (as far as we know…)

    • I know. Those numbers are too big for us to put into context. Let me give you a few stepping stones.
      Earth to Moon is about 1.5 light seconds.
      Sun to Earth is a bit over 8 lt min.
      Sun to nearest other star is 4.3 lt yrs.
      From here to the middle of our galaxy is about 35, ooo lt yrs.
      To the next galaxy is about 2 million lt yrs.
      We’ve only just begun. 🙂

      • Wow, mind-blowing. Especially when you think Homo sapiens are only 200,000 years old. In terms of the Universe, we’re just specks of dust.

  2. I remember the Herschels, but can’t recall their details now. I do know that I found them while looking for information on Ada Lovelace, and that they were interesting. Time to refresh the old mind! (Which I just did. Now, some details come back.)

    It’s interesting that we see dust illumined in beams of sunlight, while it blocks light from the galaxies. Perspective is everything, huh?

  3. Hi Jim, fascinating post and wonderful pictures. The Hubble has really expanded our thoughts and views of the universe. Bob

  4. I suppose there is such a thing as “space climate forecast”, something not having to do with our atmosphere but with the “climate” in space. Is there more dust at certain times? Is it always like that? I suppose it varies, does it not?

  5. I have not seen a blog which explains about the galaxy and its mysteries with such simplicity. Following so I can read more and feed my hungry mind… ❤ your posts.

    • Very kind of you to say. It encourages me to write more when I get comments such as that. Browse the past posts. I hope you find more fun things to read. Questions are always welcome.

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