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Revisiting the 'Pillars of Creation'

Date:
January 23, 2012
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
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.

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.
Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Hill, Motte, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium

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 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.

Read the European Space Agency story at: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/SEMG4NMXDXG_0.html

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.

More information is online at: http://www.herschel.caltech.edu, http://www.nasa.gov/herschel and http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Revisiting the 'Pillars of Creation'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118200606.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2012, January 23). Revisiting the 'Pillars of Creation'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118200606.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Revisiting the 'Pillars of Creation'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118200606.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

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