NASA’s Webb Telescope captures sharpest ‘Pillars of Creation’ portrait ever

NASA’s Webb Telescope captures sharpest ‘Pillars of Creation’ portrait ever

NASA’s most eagle-eyed observatory to date has done it again. The James Webb Space Telescope has returned an image of the famous “pillar of creation” in infrared light that is the sharpest, most detailed portrait of a spectacular star-forming region ever seen.

The ethereal scene is punctuated by translucent columns of cool interstellar gas and dust, punctuated by bright points of light. Most of these are stars, and the red balls of fire near the edge of the column are newly formed stars. According to NASA.

Don’t confuse these with the deep red, magma-like areas along the inner perimeter of some of the pillars. It is created by the turbulence of stars that are still creating and shooting supersonic jets of matter into space where they collide with other material. In short, this is what cosmic chaos looks like.

Fortunately these epic explosions and cosmic collisions are far away at about 6,500 light years from Earth.

This region of the universe first gained notoriety in 1995 when it was imaged by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. A follow-up campaign was conducted by Hubble in 2014, and numerous other observatories have also trained their lenses on the area within the Eagle Nebula.

Pillars of Creation as seen by the Hubble Telescope (left) and the Webb Telescope (right).

A 2014 image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on the left, alongside new images from the Webb Telescope

NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/Hubble Heritage Project/Joseph DePasquale/Anton M. Kokemoyer/Alyssa Pagan

A side-by-side comparison of the new image and Hubble’s Cosmic Phenomena reveals how Webb’s infrared instrument is able to see through the veil of dust and gas that covers the scene.

NASA and astronomers around the world will be looking for images like this and more data from the web to better understand the process of star formation.

For the rest of us, it’s some interesting eye candy just in time for Halloween.

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