Check Out Two Amazing Photos of the Pillars of Creation--Zoomed Out

Friday, 12 August 2016 - 12:17PM
Space
Astronomy
Space Imagery
Friday, 12 August 2016 - 12:17PM
Check Out Two Amazing Photos of the Pillars of Creation--Zoomed Out
The "Pillars of Creation" is arguably the most famous and beloved space photo of all time. While it was beautiful and iconic when it came out in 1995, but technology has advanced considerably since then, allowing us to see the Pillars, and the surrounding Eagle Nebula, in all its glory.

Pillars of Creation

The Pillars of Creation was taken by Hubble on April 1, 1995, and immediately became a sensation among space lovers. It shows the "elephant trunks" of interstellar gas in the Eagle Nebula, which is approximately 7,000 light years from Earth. The pillars are composed of gas and dust that is undergoing photoevaporation, the process by which gas is ionized by energetic radiation and spreads away from the ionizing source, as a result of UV light. The photo also shows evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs), which give birth to new stars.

A few years ago, scientists determined that there was a supernova in the vicinity of the Pillars of Creation approximately 6,000 years ago, so the Pillars don't even exist anymore. Since they are 7,000 light years away from us, we won't be able to see the destruction for another 1,000 years, so for now we continue to see them in high-resolution infrared images of the Eagle Nebula.

Here are two photos of the Eagle Nebula, with the Pillars of Creation marked (click for unedited photos): 

Pillars of Creation

Pillars of Creation

The first image was taken in 2007 by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (edited image via Reddit), and shows the Pillars in infrared wavelengths. The color green indicates cooler temperatures, mostly caused by cooler clouds of gas and dust, including the Pillars themselves. The color red indicates warmer temperatures in the active part of the nebula, including clouds of dust that are thought to be warmed by the supernova that destroyed the Pillars.

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"This majestic view taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope tells an untold story of life and death in the Eagle nebula, an industrious star-making factory located 7,000 light-years away in the Serpens constellation," NASA wrote. "The image shows the region's entire network of turbulent clouds and newborn stars in infrared light."
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The latter image was taken in 2012 by the The Herschel Space Observatory, showing the finger-like pillars illuminated by a young, hot cluster of stars:

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"The new Herschel image shows the pillars and the wide field of gas and dust around them," NASA wrote. "Captured in far-infrared wavelengths, the image allows astronomers to see inside the pillars and structures in the region. Herschel's image also makes it possible to search for young stars over a much wider region, and come to a much fuller understanding of the creative and destructive forces inside the Eagle nebula."
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