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Visual Exploration of Deep Fields: Learning Across Space, Time, and Wavelength

Presentation #523.05 in the session “Education and Public Outreach I: Citizen Science, Visualizations, and Public Engagement”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Visual Exploration of Deep Fields: Learning Across Space, Time, and Wavelength

Deep field observations of the universe have been significant accomplishments by NASA’s Great Observatories. The Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-Ray Observatory have each performed long integrations in common fields such as the Chandra Deep Field South, the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, and the Ultra Deep Field. The rich scientific research results are testament of their importance to astronomers.

The public, too, has shown a fascination for the deep field imagery, with their press releases garnering broad dissemination. However, much of the general attention is focused on the base idea of how far into the universe telescopes can see. The more developed insights into these observations extend beyond the 2D pixels, and lie underneath a layer of conceptual understanding. Ideas relating to light travel time, age of the universe, redshift, and more are essential for recognizing the more subtle and more significant aspects of the images.

In our cross-institutional, collaborative outreach work, we have developed 2D and 3D visualizations of deep fields from the space telescopes mentioned above. We have worked to identify those aspects best expressed through data visualization and combine them into succinct presentations. These explorations work to visually express the essential nature of galaxies dispersed across space. They also illustrate the time development, and correlate the changes across x-ray, optical, and infrared wavelengths. We invite learners to investigate deeper into the fields, and thereby gain an appreciation of the true scientific beauty of these observations.

This presentation is based on work performed as part of the NASA’s Universe of Learning project and is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A. The NASA’s Universe of Learning (NASA’s UoL) project creates and delivers science-driven, audience-driven resources and experiences designed to engage and immerse learners of all ages and backgrounds in exploring the universe for themselves. The competitively-selected project represents a unique partnership between the Space Telescope Science Institute, Caltech/IPAC, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and Sonoma State University, and is part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program.

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