Explore a Stunning Nebula in This Tranquil Video
Humanity is making progress in the emerging field of space tourism, but there's still a long way to go.
Even once commercial space flights allow passengers to blast off with regularity, such trips will still be confined to a relatively small radius around our home planet. We're not going to be able to witness the beauty of distant stars any time in our lifetimes unless some very drastic new technology is invented.
In the meantime, there is still a way to experience the majesty of the cosmos, and it can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home, so long as your internet connection is solid enough.
Visual artist Teun van der Zalm has created a sprawling 10-minute simulation that shows off the beauty of several distant nebulae.
Over the course of the video, the digital "camera" pans across glorious, swirling clouds of dust and debris that form when certain types of stars die, break down, and turn into cosmic flotsam.
It really is impressive how the lifecycle of a star fits together—as the shining ball of energy dies, much like a phoenix in legend, it burst out in glory, before forming into brand new stars as the cycle begins again.
The views created in Teun van der Zalm's video are inspired by photography from the Hubble Space Telescope, but have been created in a 3D space using CGI rendering—this allows the camera to duck and dive through dust piles, while chaos swirls around on all sides.
In all fairness, if through some kind of wormhole or teleportation means, humans were to be able to get close enough to see a nebula with their own eyes, they wouldn't look quite this glorious. In an effort to overcome the limitations of our black and white space telescope, photos from Hubble are often punched up a little with photoshop or other image editing techniques to make them shine.
While nebulae likely are very bright and colorful in real life, often the vivid colors are embellished a little in order to help show off the different types of gases and debris that are present within the celestial bodies.
The clouds of dust that are photographed by Hubble may often be too weak or sparse for the human eye to be able to get a good look at them—some of the most beautiful views in the universe can't actually be perceived by us in such an appealing fashion without the help of photography or computer technology.
Still, that doesn't make these wondrous sights any more impressive—if anything, it's fun to know that these are actually a little more colorful and pretty than the real things, billions of miles away as they may be.
The embellishment that occurs with photos of distant nebulae isn't entirely different to the techniques used to make recent photos of Jupiter pop with gorgeous color.
The result is something that the human eye can enjoy far more than a more abstract understanding of what these clouds look like, and the simulations are absolutely beautiful, while reminding us of our own teeny tiny insignificance, when compared with the vast wonders of the universe.
So pop some headphones in your ears to listen to the swelling orchestral synth, maximize the video window, and soak in the wonders of dying stars as best you possible can in this corner of the galaxy.
Doctor Strange's trippiest of scenes have nothing on this.