NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured a breathtaking and stunning portrait of the iconic Pillars of Creation. This is the location where new stars are forming within the dense clouds of gas and dust. When you look at the image, you will notice that the 3D pillars look like majestic rock formations. According to NASA, ‘these columns are made up of cool interstellar gas and dust that appear – at times – semi-transparent in near-infrared light.’
NASA says the new view of the Pillars of Creation will provide a clearer understanding to the researchers of how stars form and burst out of these dusty clouds over millions of years.
“Newly formed stars are the scene-stealers in this image from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). These are the bright red orbs that typically have diffraction spikes and lie outside one of the dusty pillars. When knots with sufficient mass form within the pillars of gas and dust, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and eventually form new stars,” said NASA.
“What about those wavy lines that look like lava at the edges of some pillars? These are ejections from stars that are still forming within the gas and dust. Young stars periodically shoot out supersonic jets that collide with clouds of material, like these thick pillars. This sometimes also results in bow shocks, which can form wavy patterns like a boat does as it moves through water. The crimson glow comes from the energetic hydrogen molecules that result from jets and shocks. This is evident in the second and third pillars from the top – the NIRCam image is practically pulsing with their activity. These young stars are estimated to be only a few hundred thousand years old,” the US space agency added.
“Although it may appear that near-infrared light has allowed Webb to “pierce through” the clouds to reveal great cosmic distances beyond the pillars, there are almost no galaxies in this view. Instead, a mix of translucent gas and dust known as the interstellar medium in the densest part of our Milky Way galaxy’s disk blocks our view to much of the of the deeper universe,” it said.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope first recorded this sight in 1995 and again imaged it in 2014. However, there are several other observatories that have also examined this region. This picture is set within the vast Eagle Nebula, located 6,500 light-years away.