This false color image of the Orion Nebula was made by Andrew Couperus ’17, a Clarkson University physics major from Ogdensburg.

Couperus took the raw images with the telescope at Clarkson’s Reynolds Observatory and did all the necessary calibration to produce the color image. A filter that lets through most of the blue part of the rainbow was used to make the dark blue image.

The physics that produces that blue light is the same the produces the blue color of Earth’s sky. A filter that lets through only the light of oxygen was set to green and stands out notably producing a cyan hue near the center of the nebula. A similar narrow filter that lets through only the light of sulfur was set to the color red in the image below.

Astronomers use this technique to study how gas and dust is distributed in nebula.