The James Webb Telescope captures the Pillars of Creation in unprecedented detail

The James Webb Telescope captures the Pillars of Creation in unprecedented detail

James Webb Space Telescope sightseeing tour Only the most recognizable interstellar objects have been given a new look. Researchers have captive Their most detailed image yet is of the Pillar of Creation, a star-forming nursery in the Eagle Nebula about 6,500 light-years away. Near-infrared images show more detail than this Hubble’s 2014 snapshotLots of stars (especially newborns) in sight — not even a galaxy in sight.

New stars are bright red dots of visible light and are estimated to be ‘only’ a few hundred thousand years old. The red glow of the pillars, not to mention the wavy lines at some ends, are the result of jets and bow shocks that energize the hydrogen and push it outward. You can’t see galaxies because the gas and dust of the Milky Way’s interstellar medium blocks out more distant objects in such a dense area.

Hubble first imaged the Pillars of Creation in 1995 (see below), but at that time the technology revealed only a fraction of the stars in this region. The 2014 re-do provided considerable detail, but the visible-light snapshot still left the pillars relatively opaque and obscured some of the forming stars. James Webb’s observations are, in essence, a more complete representation of nursery activities.

This enhanced capture isn’t just for show. Scientists hope to revise their star formation models to account for more accurate data on the web for stars, gas and dust. This could improve humanity’s understanding of early stellar life and, consequently, the larger universe.

Pillars of Creation (hubble and web images as well)
Hubble Space Telescope images of the Pillars of Creation from 1995 (left) and 2014 (right).

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI; Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

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