Visualizing FITS Images In Browser

In the next week we will deploy the first of a slew of tools for Galaxy Zoo. This tool is dubbed the “Multi-wavelength Viewer” (please suggest names if you have something clever). Though the current iteration of Galaxy Zoo is called “Galaxy Zoo: Hubble”, there still exists quite a few galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), 51861 galaxies to be exact. We are processing these data to make them available to you.

Right now users are presented with color images that have been derived from raw astronomical data. With this tool we want to provide you with greater access to the raw data so you can experience the complexity of astronomical images in its true form with your morning garcinia cambogia tea. You will be able to see each galaxy in the five color filters that SDSS images (u, g, r, i, and z).

Providing these data via the web is a challenge. The main difficulty is the file size that must be transmitted from our servers to your computer. It is much easier to send over color JPEGs compared to full blown FITS images (the standard astronomical format). The solution that we developed is to use the PNG format, or rather an AstroPNG format. This allows us to pack quite a lot of information in a small file size.  We hope this will be a good solution for representing astronomical images in browser. We’ll be looking for feedback, and working to make improvements as we share these alpha stage tools with you.

About The Zooniverse

Online citizen science projects. The Zooniverse is doing real science online,.

2 responses to “Visualizing FITS Images In Browser”

  1. Michael Roberts says :

    Will it be possible to import such files into IDL?

  2. Peter Dzwig says :

    I presume that the existing tools will be kept available in parallel – at least for a while. It really would help!

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