Spectacular 3-D images show off the amazing splendors of the Milky Way

Astronomers have captured some truly remarkable images of the universe over the years, but these new images created by Finnish astrophotographer J-P Metsävainio literally add an extra dimension to them.

Using images he took from his own telescope, and only adding in volumetric information to properly place everything in the image at the right distance away, Metsävainio has created some amazing 3-dimensional views of nebulae and globular clusters.

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Some, such as this one of Messier 27, the Dumbbell Nebula, show a simple 'fly-out, fly-in' view, with a slight panning back and forth to accent the structure of the nebula as we dive through the heart of it:

While others, like this one of the Veil Nebula, pause at a distance and rotate through a wide angle to really show off the breathtaking splendor of this supernova remnant:

As Metsävainio explains on his website (Astro Anarchy):

My 3-D experiments are a mixture of science and an artistic impression. I collect distance and other information before I do my 3-D conversion. Usually there are known stars ... so I can place them at right relative distance. If I know a distance to the nebula, I can fine tune distances of the stars so, that [the] right amount of stars are [in] front and behind of the object.

Parallax is a direct means of measuring cosmic distances by detecting the slight shift in an object's apparent …In astronomy, parallax is the change in our view of an object in space as the Earth orbits around the Sun. By comparing images taken at opposite sides of our orbit (on March 20th and September 20th, for example), and seeing how much objects in the images are shifted, we can determine how far away they are. The closer an object is to us, the further it will be shifted, and the further away something is, the less it will be shifted.

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Metsävainio has done some really great work, which you can see on his website, including simple animated 'panning' images, more longer views as seen in the YouTube movies above, and he's even created some 3D movies (although you need red/blue 3D glasses to properly view them).

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