Thursday 24 June 2004

Hubble: Galaxies Across Space And Time

I spent the summer of 2003 working on the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, supervised by Frank Summers, at the STScI in Baltimore, Maryland. I took an image of the Chandra Deep Field and converted it to a three dimensional fly-through of the galaxies. The movie was converted to an IMAX film, "Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time," which subsequently won Best Short Film at the LFCA (Large Format Cinema Association) annual film festival in Los Angeles, and can be seen at the Baltimore Science Centre.

From the Hubble News Release:

Take a virtual ride to the outer reaches of the universe and explore 10 billion years of galactic history, from fully formed and majestic spiral galaxies to disheveled collections of stars just beginning to form.

This unforgettable cosmic journey is presented in the award-winning IMAX short film, "Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time," which transforms images and data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope into a voyage that sweeps viewers across the cosmos. Using the 650-megapixel-mosaic image created by the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), more than 11,000 galaxy images were extracted and assembled into an accurate 3-D model for the three-minute movie. The large-format film was created by a team of Hubble image and visualization experts in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md. The film was directed by Frank Summers, an astrophysicist and science visualisation specialist.

Hubble Minute on IMAX Film and The Making of the Goods Zoom

Galaxies are vast assemblages of stars, gas, and dust. And viewers experience these majestic cities of stars on a movie screen as tall as a five-story building. The film opens with looming images of two mature galaxies that are relatively nearby Earth, and then pans through the vibrant and diverse panorama of thousands of galaxies in the GOODS mosaic.

The ensuing 3-D journey through these galaxies provides more than just a new perspective in space, it also takes the audience back in time. Because light takes time to cross space, the galaxies farther away from Earth are seen further back in cosmic history. The virtual voyage reveals galaxies as they appeared billions of years ago, when they were still in the process of forming.

The movie has been so well received that it recently won the "Best Short Feature" award at the Large Format Cinema Association's 2004 Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. The Hubble movie premiered in April at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, and is currently also playing at the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, Calif., and the New Detroit Science Center in Detroit, Mich. Distribution to several dozen other large-format theaters will occur over the coming months and years.

The film is based on data from the GOODS project, a collaboration between Hubble, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope, and several ground-based observatories. The observations with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, one of the largest Hubble projects ever, provided deep images of a small patch of sky covering about one-third of the projected area of the full moon. That patch contains nearly 30,000 galaxies, which were cross-matched against a ground-based redshift survey to get distances for the 3-D model.

Actress Barbara Feldon is the film's narrator, and space music composer Jonn Serrie wrote the surround-sound score. The STScI film team consists of John Stoke, Zoltan Levay, Lisa Frattare, Greg Bacon, John Godfrey, Bryan Preston, and summer intern Leigh Fletcher.

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). DKP/70MM Productions, Inc., a subsidiary of IMAX Corporation donated their services and created a negative and first print from the Hubble digital frames.