Knowledge Bomb: Revisiting the ‘Pillars of Creation’

Found this awesome celestial imagery over at NASA and simply had to share it with everyone who drops in here! I

(click to enlarge) This Herschel image of the Eagle nebula shows the self-emission of the intensely cold nebula’s gas and dust as never seen before. Each color shows a different temperature of dust, from around 10 degrees above absolute zero (10 Kelvin or minus 442 degrees Fahrenheit) for the red, up to around 40 Kelvin, or minus 388 degrees Fahrenheit, for the blue. Herschel reveals the nebula's intricate tendril nature, with vast cavities forming an almost cave-like surrounding to the famous pillars, which appear almost ghostly in this view. The gas and dust provide the material for the star formation that is still under way inside this enigmatic nebula.

remember seeing the original 1995 image and being in awe of it and in fact not believing that it was in any way real or that a thing like that was real.

Of course I had seen space nebulae images before and had been fascinated for ages with celestial bodies and the like but this was a true standout and now its great to see more images and even more beautiful ones in some ways. Beauty as we all know, remains in the eye of the beholder, but I think this is the kind of thing that would awe just about anyone.

This view of the Eagle nebula combines data from almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum. Herschel captured longer-wavelength, or far, infrared light, and the space telescope XMM-Newton imaged X-rays. The X-ray data show the hot young stars in the center of the cloud, which are sculpting and interacting with the surrounding ultra-cool gas and dust, seen in infrared. Both wavelengths would be blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, so space telescopes such as these are critical to our understanding of the life cycle of stars.

So here, enjoy, be amazed and share it around as freely as you like. Things like this I believe are far more worth sharing than most of the spammy and pointless stuff that gets flooded across the web most of the time. If you would like to visit the original page at NASA where I got this stuff from, click HERE and browse around and like me you might find some fascinating stuff. If you’re not feeling all that motivated, no worries, I’ll be sharing them as and when and here is the lowdown on this beauty in the meantime:

In 1995, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took an iconic image of the Eagle nebula, dubbed the “Pillars of Creation,” highlighting its finger-like pillars where new stars are thought to be forming. Now, the Herschel Space Observatory has a new, expansive view of the region captured in longer-wavelength infrared light.

The "Pillars of Creation" in the Eagle nebula, as seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/Arizona State University

The Herschel mission is led by the European Space Agency, with important NASA contributions.

The Eagle nebula is 6,500 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens. It contains a young, hot star cluster, NGC6611, visible with modest backyard telescopes, which is sculpting and illuminating the surrounding gas and dust. The result is a huge, hollowed-out cavity and pillars, each several light-years long.

The new Herschel 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. Herschel’s image also makes it possible to search for young stars over a much wider region, and come to a much fuller understanding of the creative and destructive forces inside the Eagle nebula.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA’s Herschel Project Office is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

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