Nearly 30 years ago, the Pillars of Creation stunned the world of astronomy when they were photographed by NASA’s famed Hubble Space Telescope.
Now a new generation can take a fresh look at the spectacular spectacle after the $10 billion (£7.4 billion) James Webb Hyperspace Telescope captured the same tentacles of gas and dust.
Resembling a ghostly hand, the Pillars of Creation are part of the Eagle Nebula, which lies 6,500 light-years from Earth and is known to be a source of star formation.
This week, NASA and the European Space Agency unveiled another look at Webb’s sharp eye feathers.
Bonito: Nearly 30 years ago, the Pillars of Creation stunned the world of astronomy when they were photographed by NASA’s famed Hubble Space Telescope. Now a new generation can take a fresh look at the spectacular spectacle after the $10 billion (£7.4 billion) James Webb Space Telescope captured the same tentacles of gas and dust (pictured).
Hubble took the first image of the Pillars of Creation in 1995. It provided the first evidence that stars could be born inside pillars.
What are the pillars of creation?
This is one of the most iconic space features ever captured on camera.
The Pillars of Creation was first captured by NASA’s Hubble Telescope in 1995 and re-captured in 2014.
Now, almost 30 years after we first saw the dying formation, it has been captured again by NASA’s new James Webb Super Space Telescope.
The Pillars of Creation, located 6500 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens, are part of the Eagle Nebula.
It is known to be an important source of star formation.
Gas and dust in tentacle-like tentacles give rise to stars, including many very young, and some now photographed only a few 100,000 years old.
In the 1995 Hubble image, blue represents oxygen, red represents sulfur, and green represents nitrogen and hydrogen.
The pillars are bathed in scorching ultraviolet light from off-screen clusters of young stars.
The winds of these stars are slowly destroying towers of gas and dust.
The most recent image was taken in the mid-infrared range, which dims the brightness of stars and captures only streams of gas and dust. It gave a new way to experience and understand amazing composition.
Webb has instruments that can see in different wavelengths of infrared light.
In October, experts published an image of the Pillars of Creation taken with the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and then added an image taken with the Mid Infrared Light (MIRI) instrument.
Now they’ve stitched the images together to create a breathtaking image that shows the best of both worlds, showing bright edges of dust where young stars are just starting to form.
NIRCam shows newly formed stars in orange outside the pillars, while MRI shows layers of dust forming.
“This is one of the reasons this region is filled with stars – dust is a key component of star formation,” NASA said.
The bright red fingertips on the second column indicate active star formation, but the stars are still very young – according to NASA, they are only 100,000 years old.
It takes millions of years to fully form.
“By combining images of the iconic Pillars of Creation from two cameras aboard NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the cosmos is framed in infrared glory,” writes Webb’s team.
They said it “fired up this star forming region with new details.”
When clumps of gas and dust of sufficient mass form at the poles, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heating up and eventually forming new stars.
“Newly formed stars are especially visible at the edges of the top two pillars — they’re practically visible,” Webb’s team said.
Almost everything you see in this scene is local.
The distant Universe is largely hidden from our view by the interstellar medium, consisting of rarefied interstellar gas and dust, and a thick layer of dust in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
“As a result, stars take center stage in the Pillars of Creation web show.”
The Pillars of Creation are located in the constellation Serpens.
New Super Space Telescope: Webb (pictured) has instruments that can see multiple wavelengths of infrared light.
In October, experts released an image of the Pillars of Creation from the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam).
Then take a picture of a mid-infrared (MIRI) device.
It houses the hot young star cluster NGC6611, visible through modest backyard telescopes, cutting through and illuminating the surrounding gas and dust, creating huge holes and hollow pillars, each a few light-years across.
A 1995 Hubble image hinted that new stars were being born inside the pillars. Due to dust clogging, the Hubble Space Telescope’s visible-light image could not look inside and prove that young stars were forming.
So NASA brought Hubble back for a second visit, allowing them to compare the two images.
Astronomers have noticed a change in the jet-like feature moving away from one of the newborn stars inside the pillars.
Between observations, the length of the jet increased by 60 billion miles, indicating that the material in the jet was moving at about 450,000 miles per hour.
James Webb Telescope: NASA’s $10 billion telescope designed to detect light from the oldest stars and galaxies.
The James Webb Telescope has been described as a “time machine” that could help unlock the secrets of our universe.
The telescope will be used to observe the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, looking for the sources of stars, exoplanets and even our solar system’s moons and planets.
The huge telescope, which once cost over $7 billion (£5 billion), is believed to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
The James Webb telescope and most of his instruments are around 40 K, about minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 degrees Celsius).
It is the largest and most powerful orbiting space telescope in the world, capable of looking back 100-200 million years after the Big Bang.
The infrared observatory orbiting it is about 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA prefers to think of James Webb as Hubble’s successor rather than his replacement, as the two will work together for a while.
The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990 by the Space Shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It orbits the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour (27,300 km/h) in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles.