The IMAX visualisation was reported at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in 2003:
Summers, F. J., Stoke, J. M., Albert, L. J., Bacon, G. T., Barranger, C. L., Feild, A. R., Frattare, L. M., Godfrey, J. P., Levay, Z. G., Preston, B. S., L. N. Fletcher, GOODS Team. 2003. Hubble Goes IMAX: 3D Visualization of the GOODS Southern Field for a Large Format Short Film. Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 35, p.1345
Take a virtual ride to the outer reaches of the universe and explore 10 billion years of galactic history, from fully formed and majestic spiral galaxies to disheveled collections of stars just beginning to form.
This unforgettable cosmic journey is presented in the award-winning IMAX short film, "Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time," which transforms images and data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope into a voyage that sweeps viewers across the cosmos. Using the 650-megapixel-mosaic image created by the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), more than 11,000 galaxy images were extracted and assembled into an accurate 3-D model for the three-minute movie. The large-format film was created by a team of Hubble image and visualization experts in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md. The film was directed by Frank Summers, an astrophysicist and science visualization specialist.
Galaxies are vast assemblages of stars, gas, and dust. And viewers experience these majestic cities of stars on a movie screen as tall as a five-story building. The film opens with looming images of two mature galaxies that are relatively nearby Earth, and then pans through the vibrant and diverse panorama of thousands of galaxies in the GOODS mosaic.
The ensuing 3-D journey through these galaxies provides more than just a new perspective in space, it also takes the audience back in time. Because light takes time to cross space, the galaxies farther away from Earth are seen further back in cosmic history. The virtual voyage reveals galaxies as they appeared billions of years ago, when they were still in the process of forming.
The movie has been so well received that it recently won the "Best Short Feature" award at the Large Format Cinema Association's 2004 Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. The Hubble movie premiered in April at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, and is currently also playing at the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, Calif., and the New Detroit Science Center in Detroit, Mich. Distribution to several dozen other large-format theaters will occur over the coming months and years.
The film is based on data from the GOODS project, a collaboration between Hubble, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope, and several ground-based observatories. The observations with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, one of the largest Hubble projects ever, provided deep images of a small patch of sky covering about one-third of the projected area of the full moon. That patch contains nearly 30,000 galaxies, which were cross-matched against a ground-based redshift survey to get distances for the 3-D model.
Actress Barbara Feldon is the film's narrator, and space music composer Jonn Serrie wrote the surround-sound score. The STScI film team consists of John Stoke, Zoltan Levay, Lisa Frattare, Greg Bacon, John Godfrey, Bryan Preston, and summer intern Leigh Fletcher.
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). DKP/70MM Productions, Inc., a subsidiary of IMAX Corporation donated their services and created a negative and first print from the Hubble digital frames.
In March of 2002, during the final completed flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia, astronauts installed the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard Hubble. This new instrument is now providing images of such resolution and clarity that large-format film screens are an ideal medium for displaying them.
With the generous support of David Keighley Productions 70MM, Inc., an IMAX company, we have created Hubble: Galaxies Across Space & Time, a journey across 9 billion years of cosmic history that takes a mere 2 minutes 51 seconds, short enough to be spliced into the “trailer space” before a main feature.
Awarded “Best Short Feature” in the Large Format Cinema Association’s 2004 Film Festival, the film is available for showing at institutional IMAX theaters in the USA and Canada at no cost. At the moment we have 5 prints available. We have the soundtrack on DTAC disc; other soundtrack formats can be procured at cost directly from the IMAX Soundtrack Mastering Facility.
The highlight of the film is a fantastic computer-generated flight through a field of over 10,000 galaxies that takes audiences on a journey back through time to an era when galaxies were newly formed. Viewers will see the universe as it appeared when it was young.
These galaxies were photographed by Hubble as part of the Great Observatory Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) project. The original source image contains over 600 million pixels. Hubble scientists and imaging specialists worked for months to extract individual galaxy images, placing them in a 3D model according to their approximate true distances as determined by ground-based photometric redshift data.