Putting it together

To create the final image, Hubble’s new Wide Field Camera 3 took portraits of the Carina nebula through six filters — three in visible light and three in the infrared. All were radioed to Earth as black-and-white images, then colorized and combined into a composite.

This infrared view of the same part of the Carina nebula offers a more penetrating but less visually dramatic portrait of the region. The newborn stars appear more exposed because their infrared emissions are less obscured than is visible light by the dusty towers in which the newborns reside.

As in the final visible-light image (above), the infrared composite image began as three black-and-white images. These were taken at infrared wavelengths of 164 nanometers (emission from singly ionized iron), 126 nanometers (another emission line from singly ionized iron) and 128 nanometers (emission from hydrogen atoms). Once again, the longest of these wavelengths — all of which are invisible to the human eye — was assigned red, and the shortest was coded blue.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)