In another triumph for citizen science, physician and astrophotographer Robert Gendler has created the most glorious image we've ever seen of the spiral galaxy M106. He did it by combining his own ground-based photography of the galaxy with images taken by the Hubble space telescope. Click to enlarge.
This is a great reminder that citizen science, done by educated amateurs, is incredibly important when it comes to observation and data collection. This photograph also makes it clear how much of the astrophotography we see is the result of mosaics which combine many images of the same object to give us a clear view.
Working with astronomical image processors at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., renowned astrophotographer Robert Gendler has taken science data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) archive and combined it with his own ground-based observations to assemble a photo illustration of the magnificent spiral galaxy M106.
Gendler retrieved archival Hubble images of M106 to assemble a mosaic of the center of the galaxy. He then used his own and fellow astrophotographer Jay GaBany's observations of M106 to combine with the Hubble data in areas where there was less coverage, and finally, to fill in the holes and gaps where no Hubble data existed.
The center of the galaxy is composed almost entirely of HST data taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, Wide Field Camera 3, and Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 detectors. The outer spiral arms are predominantly HST data colorized with ground-based data taken by Gendler's and GaBany's 12.5-inch and 20-inch telescopes, located at very dark remote sites in New Mexico. The image also reveals the optical component of the "anomalous arms" of M106, seen here as red, glowing hydrogen emission.