Kick in the Eye: A Rotating, 3D Nebula

This is one of those moments where you think you’ve found a reason for a gif. Sure, there’s kittens and movie moments but surely this is what a gif was for. This stunning image of an incredible astronomical body (star cluster IC 1396) captured by astrophotographer J-P Metsävainio.

Writes Metsävainio:

‘Since astronomical objects are too far away, no real parallax can be imaged. Doe to that, I have developed a method to turn my images to various 3D-formats. My work flow is based on scientific data from the object, distance and the source of ionization are usually known. The different types of the nebulae has typical structures, pillar like formations must point to the source of ionization, the radiation pressure forms kind of hollow area, inside of the nebula, around newly born stars, dark nebulae must be at front of the emission ones to show, etc… rest of the missing information is then replaced with an artistic vision. The whole process is pretty much like sculpting!’

Pretty remarkable — though, according to Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait, Metsävainio’s rendering is more art than science. Most of the stills that comprise this gif are actually artificially generated, “based on various assumptions on how nebulae are shaped.”

Valid and relevant point though it is Phil, there’s no need to kill the mood. Anything that moves people’s attention out to the stars above has to be a good thing for hardened astronomers such as himself.

One thought on “Kick in the Eye: A Rotating, 3D Nebula

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