Cosmic photography

The Horsehead Nebula from 'Ancient Light: a Portrait of the Universe' by David Malin
The Horsehead Nebula from 'Ancient Light: a Portrait of the Universe' by David Malin

Today’s Independent has a profile on Australian astronomical photographer David Malin. That’s right, the mind boggling image above is a photograph, not an illustration.

“Photography has been crucial to the advancement of astronomy, it transformed it completely. We were able to see bigger and more interesting things than previously imaginable. Now digital technology reveals an even more mysterious universe that is just as interesting and beautiful,” says Malin.

A selection of Malin’s work has been put together in a new book titled Ancient Light: a Portrait of the Universe. These photographs were captured using old-fashioned glass plates coated with a super-sensitive chemical emulsion. The photographs were taken in the name of science, but have been selected for their aesthetic appeal.

“The Horsehead nebula, dust and gas adrift in Orion” is an image of a cosmic dust cloud in the shape of a horse’s head. The clouds glow and an extra bright star dominates the scene. Malin points out that a dark patch at the base of the cloud is where new stars form. In scientific terms, it’s a mass of plasma, hydrogen and dust. Visually, it’s sublime.

Here’s the book; it looks incredible.