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Incredible new view of Eagle Nebula's 'Pillars of Creation' captured

Washington, Wed, 18 Jan 2012 ANI

Washington, Jan 18 (ANI): Two of European Space Agency's telescopes have captured magnificent new view of the iconic Eagle Nebula, which was distinctively dubbed as "Pillars of Creation" when it was pictured by the Hubble telescope in 1995.

 

The image of the Eagle Nebula had become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

 

The Eagle Nebula is 6500 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens. It contains a young hot star cluster, NGC6611, visible with modest back-garden telescopes, that is sculpting and illuminating the surrounding gas and dust, resulting in a huge hollowed-out cavity and pillars, each several light-years long.

 

The Hubble image hinted at new stars being born within the pillars, deeply inside small clumps known as 'evaporating gaseous globules' or EGGs.

 

Owing to obscuring dust, Hubble's visible light picture was unable to see inside and prove that young stars were indeed forming.

 

The ESA Herschel Space Observatory's new image shows the pillars and the wide field of gas and dust around them. Captured in far-infrared wavelengths, the image allows astronomers to see inside the pillars and structures in the region.

 

In parallel, a new multi-energy X-ray image from ESA's XMM-Newton telescope shows those hot young stars responsible for carving the pillars.

 

Combining the new space data with near-infrared images from the European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile, and visible-light data from its Max Planck Gesellschaft 2.2m diameter telescope at La Silla, Chile, this iconic region of the sky can be seen in a uniquely beautiful and revealing way.

 

In visible wavelengths, the nebula shines mainly due to reflected starlight and hot gas filling the giant cavity, covering the surfaces of the pillars and other dusty structures.

 

At near-infrared wavelengths, the dust becomes almost transparent and the pillars practically vanish.

 

In far-infrared, Herschel detects this cold dust and the pillars reappear, this time glowing in their own light.

 

Intricate tendrils of dust and gas are seen to shine, giving astronomers clues about how it interacts with strong ultraviolet light from the hot stars seen by XMM-Newton.

 

Herschel's image makes it possible to search for young stars over a much wider region and thus come to a much fuller understanding of the creative and destructive forces inside the Eagle Nebula. (ANI)

 


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