NASA’s Webb Takes Star-Filled Portrait of Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured gorgeous, incredibly detailed photographs of the eponymous Pillars of Creation, where new stars are formed beneath thick clouds of gas and dust.

The stunning three-dimensional rock formations are far more permeable. These columns of chilled interstellar gas and dust occasionally seem semi-transparent in near-infrared light.

Webb’s new picture of the Pillars of Creation, first famously captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, will help astronomers revise their star formation models by finding considerably more precise counts of freshly formed stars as well as the amounts of gas and dust in the vicinity.

What is shown in the image?

In this photograph taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera, newly formed stars take center stage (NIRCam). These are the bright red orbs that are outside of one of the dusty pillars and frequently have diffraction spikes.

When knots with sufficient mass form among the pillars of gas and dust, they gradually begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and finally give birth to new stars.

What are these “Bow Shocks”?

These are ejections from young stars in the gas and dust surrounding them that are associated with star formation. Young stars occasionally produce supersonic jets that collide with the material clouds around them to create these enormous pillars.

Sometimes this can also result in bow shocks, which can produce waves that simulate the motion of a boat across water. A vehicle traveling at supersonic speeds will face a significant increase in drag as a result of the bow shock.

This characteristic was taken into account when developing the return capsules for space missions like the Apollo programme, which needed a large amount of drag to slow down during atmospheric reentry.

The Production Of Hydrogen molecules

The red light is caused by the strong hydrogen molecules that shocks and jets produce. Their activity almost flashes through the NIRCam image in the second and third pillars from the top, demonstrating this. According to estimations, these young stars are only a few hundred thousand years old.

Despite the appearance that near-infrared light has allowed Webb to “punch through” the clouds to display huge cosmic expanses beyond the pillars, there aren’t any galaxies in this image.

Instead, blocks of the interstellar medium, a mixture of transparent gas and dust, can be found in the densest area of the disc of our Milky Way galaxy.

What did the researchers observe?

This picture was first taken by Hubble in 1995, and it was again captured in 2014. However, a lot of other observatories have paid close attention to this area as well. With each new, better equipment, scientists discover something new about this region, which is practically exploding with stars.


This closely cropped image shows the massive Eagle Nebula, which is situated 6,500 light-years away in the background.

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