ESO Releases Iconic Pillars of Creation Image in Spectacular 3-D

Friday, 01 May 2015 - 11:00AM
NASA
Space Imagery
Friday, 01 May 2015 - 11:00AM
ESO Releases Iconic Pillars of Creation Image in Spectacular 3-D
Taking their cue from sci-fi and action movies, ESO astronomers have released the iconic Pillars of Creation Hubble image in 3-D. In the new study, ESO revisits the subject of NASA's classic photograph with their Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument in order to create the first three-dimensional view of the dusty structures, as well as reveal previously unknown details about their composition and relation to surrounding stars.

For a full-size version, click here:

ESO Releases Iconic Pillars of Creation in 3-D

The original NASA Hubble image was taken two decades ago, and immediately captured the attention of both the scientific community and the public consciousness as a result of its unique beauty and clarity. The photograph shows pillars of cool molecular hydrogen and dust that are gradually being eroded by ultraviolet light from nearby stars, in a process called photoevaporation. They develop within evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs), which are themselves the birthplaces of new stars. Since that first photo was taken, astronomers have taken higher-resolution images and created side-by-side comparisons, but this is the first three-dimensional view of the phenomenon.



The new study also revealed several pieces of heretofore unknown information about the Pillars of Creation: MUSE showed that there is a jet from a young star that has never been seen in previous imaging, as well as two gestating young stars in the left and middle pillars. It also revealed the pillars' orientation; the tip of the left pillar is facing towards Earth, which makes it seem brighter, while the tips of the other pillars are facing away from us.

MUSE also revealed that though the structures are the "Pillars of Creation" in the sense that they are host to budding young stars, they are also undergoing their own process of destruction. They shed approximately 70 times the mass of the Sun every million years, and are expected to have a lifespan of only three million more years. 

Via NASA.
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