400 hundred years after Galileo first peered into the night sky in wonder, we are living in the midst of astronomy’s golden age. At no other point in history has humankind’s capacity for understanding the universe been so limitless – aided in no small part by the exquisitely sensitive instruments we have developed to reveal the mysteries of universe. Central to this endeavor is light. It illuminates all that we see, and in turn awakens our curiosity, beckoning us to explore.

Often in our explorations, we are focused on the big questions, “How does the universe work?”, “How did we get here?”, and “Are we alone?”. Here at Illuminated Universe, we aim to narrow the focus a bit and offer a behind-the-scenes look at how science data from observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope are distilled to uncover the richness, diversity, and beauty of the universe. From intergalactic photons to pixels on your screen, each image has a story to tell. Additionally, we use these data to inform astronomical visualizations that dig deeper, beyond the two-dimensional image, to bring a more complete understanding of astrophysical phenomena to you. Here, you will get the story behind those images and visualizations.

The home of Illuminated Universe is Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore MD, which is run by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for NASA.


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