You may or may not be surprised to hear that despite the spectacular colors, hues and shades we see in pictures of deep space, all the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope are captured in black and white. It may be even more surprising that to produce the colors we see in the pictures shot with this state-of-the-art telescope Hubble scientists use a process pioneered by British photographer Thomas Sutton in the 1860s.

Vox has posted a fascinating video that explains how scientists are able to record images of selected wave lengths and combine them using red, green and blue separations to create pictures that appear full color. Depending on which wave lengths are recorded and the colors used to combine the images the results can display colors as we would see them with our eyes or representative colors that help to show the presence and patterns of different gases so that they can be studied more closely. It is all pretty cool and well worth a watch.

If you find this topic interesting and want to learn more, watch our video Revealing a Hidden Universe, by astrophysicist Robert Hurt from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech.