We hear it all the time. Well, maybe you don't, but I get this thrown at me a lot. We see beautiful images released by NASA and other space agencies: ghostly nebulas giving tantalizing hints of their inner structures, leftover ruins of long-dead stellar systems, furious supernovae caught in the act of exploding and newborn stars peeking out from their dusty wombs.
Instead of just sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the light show the universe is putting on, some people feel compelled to object: But those colors are fake!
Scientists want pictures to look better, too — for the sake of science. Researchers take pictures of stuff in space to learn about how it works, and some higher contrast here or a little brightening over there can help us understand complex structures and relationships within and between them.Space.com: Stop Complaining about 'Fake' Colors in NASA Images
So don't blame NASA for a little photo enhancement touching up; they're doing it for science.