NASA Releases Stunning Images of 'Pillars of Creation'

James Webb Space Telescope captured star-forming region in vivid detail
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2022 1:35 PM CDT
Webb Telescope Takes Stunning Images of 'Pillars of Creation'
This combination image provided by NASA on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, shows the Pillars of Creation as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, left, and by the James Webb Telescope, right.   (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP)

Marvel's cosmic Silver Surfer would not seem out of place in the latest amazing images from the James Webb Space Telescope. The images show the Pillars of Creation, spires of interstellar gas and dust in an active star-forming region of the Eagle Nebula in the Serpens constellation, 6,500 light years away, reports Reuters. Images of the pillars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 became iconic, and NASA says the new, more vivid images "will help researchers revamp their models of star formation by identifying far more precise counts of newly formed stars, along with the quantities of gas and dust in the region."

NASA describes newly formed stars as "scene stealers" in the images, which were taken with the Webb telescope's near-infrared camera. "These are the bright red orbs that typically have diffraction spikes and lie outside one of the dusty pillars," the agency says. "When knots with sufficient mass form within the pillars of gas and dust, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and eventually form new stars."

The Webb telescope is operated by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. "I've been studying the Eagle Nebula since the mid-1990s, trying to see 'inside' the light-years long pillars that Hubble showed, searching for young stars inside them. I always knew that when James Webb took pictures of it, they would be stunning. And so they are," Mark McCaughrean, the senior adviser for science at the ESA, tells the BBC. (Read more James Webb Space Telescope stories.)

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