NASA releases new image of the Pillars of Creation

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The Pillars of Creation were one of the most famous targets of the The Hubble Space Telescope. Located in the Eagle Nebula around 7000 Light years far, Hubble took its first image of the Pillars in 1995, and they quickly became an iconic example of Hubble’s power. Now, in 2022, NASA’s latest space telescope, James Webbtook the most detailed image of the Pillars of Creation.

Webb versus Hubble

Comparison of the Pillars of Creation taken by Hubble (left) and James Webb (right). Image credit: NASA/ESA

The Hubble and Webb Pillars of Creation images are very different from each other. One obvious reason for this is that Webb is significantly more powerful than Hubble, yet another reason is that the images were taken in different wavelengths light. The Hubble image was taken in visible light, the wavelength of light in which our eyes are adapted to see. James Webb’s image, however, was taken in infrared light. Different wavelengths of light allow astronomers to see the universe differently. For example, longer wavelengths of light more easily penetrate dense globes of gas and dust. Objects that would otherwise be hidden can be viewed in certain wavelengths of light. In the case of the Pillars of Creation, a number of stars are forming that would otherwise be invisible to our eyes. By viewing the pillars in infrared light, Webb is able to observe how stars form.

A Changing Perspective

Pillars of Creation
Image by James Webb of the Pillars of Creation, showing the structure in unprecedented detail. Image credit: NASA/ESA

Webb is currently one of the most powerful telescopes in operation, and its images are among the highest resolutions ever taken of our universe. Webb is likely to change our view of the universe on a similar scale to how Hubble changed our perspective. By imaging the Pillars of Creation, Webb is giving astronomers a whole new perspective on star formation, and images like these will provide astronomers with a more detailed view of how stars form, how much material necessary to form stars, how often stars form and how long it takes for stars to form.

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