Webb telescope takes a picture of the star-filled pillars of creation

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured a lush and highly detailed landscape of a region, lthe iconic Pillars of Creation, where new stars form within dense clouds of gas and dust. Three-dimensional pillars look like majestic rock formations, but are much more permeable. These plumes are composed of fresh interstellar gas and dust that are sometimes semi-transparent in near-infrared light.

Webb’s new vision of the Pillars of Creation – first made famous when the images were taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1995— will help researchers reframe their models of star formation, identifying much more accurate counts of newly forming stars, along with amounts of gas and dust in the region, NASA said in a statement.

These plumes are composed of fresh interstellar gas and dust that are sometimes semi-transparent in near-infrared light.

Over time, scientists will begin to develop a clearer understanding of how stars form and eject from these dusty clouds over millions of years.

newly formed stars

Newly formed stars take center stage in this Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image by Webb. These are the bright red orbs that typically have diffraction spikes and are found outside one of the dust pillars. When sufficiently massive nodes form inside the pillars of gas and dust, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and finally form new stars.

And those wavy lines that look like lava on the edges of some pillars? These are ejected from stars that are still forming within the gas and dust.

These young stars are estimated to be only a few hundred thousand years old.

At young stars they periodically launch supersonic jets that collide with clouds of material, like these thick pillars. This sometimes also causes shock waves, which can form rippling patterns, like a ship moving through water. The crimson glow comes from energetic hydrogen molecules that are produced by the jets and shock waves. This is evident in the second and third pillars from the top: the NIRCam image is practically throbbing with your activity. These young stars are estimated to be only a few hundred thousand years old.

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While it might appear that near-infrared light allowed Webb to ‘pierce’ the clouds to reveal vast cosmic distances beyond the pillars, there are no galaxies in this view. Instead, a mixture of dust and translucent gas known as the interstellar medium in the densest part of the Milky Way’s disk blocks our view of the deeper universe.

This scene was first captured by Hubble in 1995 s visited again in 2014, but many other observatories have also closely observed this region. Each advanced instrument offers researchers new details about this region, literally filled with stars.

This heavily cropped image is located within the great Eagle Nebula, which is 6,500 light-years away.

The Pillars of Creation stand out in a kaleidoscope of colors in the near-infrared view of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The pillars look like arches and columns emerging from a desert landscape, but they are filled with semi-transparent gas and dust and are constantly changing. This is a region where young stars are forming, or have barely emerged from their dusty cocoons as they continue to form. / NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

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