Home Features Best of 2015 BEST OF 2015 // #83: Hubble Revisits An Icon

BEST OF 2015 // #83: Hubble Revisits An Icon

BEST OF 2015 // #83: Hubble Revisits An Icon

In celebration of Hubble’s 25th anniversary, NASA researchers decided to re-capture a new look at a classic star-forming region, originally captured in one of the most iconic space images ever taken.

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Using it’s newest camera, Hubble snapped a wider, shaper, and HD view of the Eagle Nebula’s famous “Pillars of Creation”.  The ‘pillars’ are in fact immense clouds of gas, super cooled and awash in the UV light from nearby starts which are both massive and young.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous Pillars of Creation, revealing a sharper and wider view of the structures in this visible-light image.

Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble the wider view. The towering pillars are about 5 light-years tall. The dark, finger-like feature at bottom right may be a smaller version of the giant pillars. The new image was taken with Hubble’s versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3.

The pillars are bathed in the blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth.

The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green.
Object Names: M16, Eagle Nebula, NGC 6611
Image Type: Astronomical
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The area around the pillars is likely analogous to the same kind of environment in which our own star formed, over 4.5 billion years ago.

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