Webb Snaps Super-Eerie Image Of ‘Pillars Of Creation’

The well-known “Pillars of Creation,” which were photographed by the brand-new super-space telescope James Webb, has been the subject of a second image issued by the US space agency Nasa. This week, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument shows the busy star-forming zone (MIRI).

This remarkable location was revealed last week by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) of the observatory, which is located 6,500 light-years from Earth. The majority of the Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16 or M16, which it forms from, is made up of the pillars.

Every huge telescope focuses on them in an effort to better understand the physics and chemistry involved in how new stars are born in enormous clouds of gas and dust.

How Is This Picture So Special?

The Webb Space Telescope, with its 6.5m-wide mirror and high-fidelity sensors, is the newest, largest, and greatest space observatory to view the scene. What is noteworthy about the new MIRI image is the choice of wavelengths for revealing the pillars.

Astronomers typically filter the light to make the dusty columns appear almost translucent in order to better observe the interior of young stars. By doing this, the NIRCam image highlighted the numerous young blue stars that are present.

And MIRI can carry out this plan much farther. The wavelengths that the filtering in this case has selected are those where the dust truly shines.

Complex Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Chemistry

According to Prof. Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor for science at the European Space Agency, “this stunning image shows that mid-infrared observations are also great for studying dust and complex molecules made to glow by the intense light of nearby hot stars, defying expectations that they let you see through dust.”

In doing so, the complex chemistry of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, is brought into focus. These substances have a lot of carbon in them. Both charred toast and automobile exhaust contain them. The PAHs produced by stars are thought to have enhanced the carbon content of the universe.


Scientists and engineers from 10 European countries, led by the UK, created MIRI in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Among its co-principal investigators is Prof. Gillian Wright.

“Simply said, it’s exciting to watch MIRI’s progress. It is generating scientific knowledge that is entirely novel to us, “the director of the UK Astronomy Technology Center told BBC News.

“If you like, you can think of this new image as the “skin” of the pillars. You can see filamentary structures where the stars are beginning to flash through the dust. Furthermore, you may distinguish black places that are so cold and dense that MIRI is unable to illuminate them.”

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