Have you ever wondered how breathtaking celestial images like this one came to be? Believe it or not, that isn't how they appear when telescopes like Hubble first lay their eyes on them, and getting them to look the way they do is actually a fairly involved process.

Let Brant Widgeon, an "Astronomical Image Enhancement Engineer," walk you through some of the trade secrets of deep space image editing, including one of the best-kept cuddliest secrets of all: SPACE CATS.

Note: For those interested in how researchers actually create false-color images of various galaxies, planets, and nebulae, check out this example video from NASA, wherein 7 black and white photos (comprising 1,400 images from 3 different Hubble cameras) are scaled, aligned, and edited to produce a stunning image of spiral galaxy NGC 3982.


And for an even more in depth look at how image-editing teams create a "Technicolor Universe" out of raw imaging data, check out this article from Sky & Telescope Magazine, courtesy of HubbleSite.

[Top video by Andy Freeberg via Kerri Smith]