NASA’s Webb Telescope Captures Super Weird Image of ‘Pillars of Creation’

NASA’s Webb Telescope Captures Super Weird Image of ‘Pillars of Creation’

New images from NASA’s next-generation James Webb Space Telescope show views of the cosmos so clear and sharp, they’re chilling. For Halloween, the space agency turned on the infrared (middle) in an image of the spectacular “Pillars of Creation” to give this remarkable star-forming region a darker, dustier hue.

The Pillars of Creation, located in the vast Eagle Nebula about 6,500 light-years away, first rose to astronomical fame when the Hubble Space Telescope observed it in 1995.

Then it was thrust back into the spotlight as the scope overhauled it in 2014, and last week, Hubble’s successor Webb provided very detailed and very sharp views of the pillars, managing to see through more of the area’s obscuring dust than was possible before. This image was produced by the machine’s near-infrared instrument. However, it turns out that Webb is also equipped to let dust and gas shine in their own ethereal way.

The switch to Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI, provided the chilling sighting of the iconic pillars we see above.

Viewing the scene in the mid-infrared removes the dust that obscures the light of numerous bright stars, shines more readily in other parts of the spectrum, and stands out in Webb’s seminal image of the landscape. according to NASA.

The effect gives the whole scene a more ghostly feel, like a great dark hand reaching across the universe. The crimson hues brought out by MIRI are enough to make you wonder if we’re really looking at heaven or somewhere a little more… hellish.

This red region near the top is where the dust is cooler and more diffuse, and just like a storm cloud on Earth, the darker grays in the pillars (or fingers) indicate the densest dust clouds.

Besides being eye-popping to cosmic eyes, this new view also provides more detailed data that will allow astronomers to build more complete 3D models of this turbulent region where entire solar systems begin.

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