Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home | Science |

Image Size and Resolution

Small image

Medium size image

Full size image

Here we have the same image at 3 different sizes. The image in the middle is 10 times bigger than the image on the left, and the image on the right is 10 times bigger than the image in the middle. So now you can see that the size of the image produced by a detector is important to an astronomer. In fact, using the tiny image on the left, we would have no idea what we were looking at, but only that "something" is there. The image in the middle would allow us to say that the "something" is a human being. The image on the right would allow us to identify the "something" as a painting of Paul Cezanne's father.

But image size is only a part of the whole 'image' also need to understand about image resolution.

Low spatial resolution image

Full spatial resolution image

Here we have the same image at the same size, but at 2 resolutions. The image on the right has 9 times the spatial resolution as the one on the left does. What a difference! Now you can see why having a value of the spatial resolution be as big as possible is very important to an astronomer... the bigger (or better) the resolution, the more you can see the details, and the more you can learn about something.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index