Image: Pillars of Creation (NIRCam Image)

Stsci_2022-052a_1024

stsci_2022-052a October 19th, 2022

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

The Pillars of Creation are set off in a kaleidoscope of color in NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s near-infrared-light view. The pillars look like arches and spires rising out of a desert landscape, but are filled with semi-transparent gas and dust, and ever changing. This is a region where young stars are forming – or have barely burst from their dusty cocoons as they continue to form.

Newly formed stars are the scene-stealers in this Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image. These are the bright red orbs that sometimes appear with eight diffraction spikes. When knots with sufficient mass form within the pillars, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and eventually begin shining brightly.

Along the edges of the pillars are wavy lines that look like lava. These are ejections from stars that are still forming. Young stars periodically shoot out supersonic jets that can interact within clouds of material, like these thick pillars of gas and dust. This sometimes also results in bow shocks, which can form wavy patterns like a boat does as it moves through water. These young stars are estimated to be only a few hundred thousand years old, and will continue to form for millions of years.

Although it may appear that near-infrared light has allowed Webb to “pierce through” the background to reveal great cosmic distances beyond the pillars, the interstellar medium stands in the way, like a drawn curtain.

This is also the reason why there are no distant galaxies in this view. This translucent layer of gas blocks our view of the deeper universe. Plus, dust is lit up by the collective light from the packed “party” of stars that have burst free from the pillars. It’s like standing in a well-lit room looking out a window – the interior light reflects on the pane, obscuring the scene outside and, in turn, illuminating the activity at the party inside.

Webb’s new view of the Pillars of Creation will help researchers revamp models of star formation. By identifying far more precise star populations, along with the quantities of gas and dust in the region, they will begin to build a clearer understanding of how stars form and burst out of these clouds over millions of years.

The Pillars of Creation is a small region within the vast Eagle Nebula, which lies 6,500 light-years away.

Webb’s NIRCam was built by a team at the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center.

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-052

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: https://www.stsci.edu/copyright

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
M16 Eagle Nebula NGC 6611
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Nebula > Appearance > Emission

Distance

Universescale1
6,500 light years
Stsci_2022-052a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 18h 18m 55.2s
DEC = -13° 51’ 6.3”
Orientation
North is 2.6° CW
Field of View
4.2 x 7.3 arcminutes
Constellation
Serpens

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Purple Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 900.0 nm
Blue Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 1.9 µm
Cyan Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 2.0 µm
Yellow Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 3.4 µm
Orange Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 4.4 µm
Red Webb (NIRCam) Infrared 4.7 µm
Spectrum_base
Purple
Blue
Cyan
Yellow
Orange
Red
Stsci_2022-052a_1280
×
ID
2022-052a
Subject Category
B.4.1.2   B.4.2.1  
Subject Name
M16, Eagle Nebula, NGC 6611
Credits
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
Release Date
2022-10-19
Lightyears
6,500
Redshift
6,500
Reference Url
https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-052
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Distance in lightyears
Facility
Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb, Webb
Instrument
NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam, NIRCam
Color Assignment
Purple, Blue, Cyan, Yellow, Orange, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
900, 1870, 2000, 3350, 4440, 4700
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
274.72992785796, -13.85173905846
Reference Dimension
8423.00, 14589.00
Reference Pixel
4248.17530921143, 7300.92638900652
Scale
-0.00000833508, 0.00000833508
Rotation
-2.56461230281
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
World Coordinate System resolved using PinpointWCS 0.9.2 revision 218+ by the Chandra X-ray Center FITS X FITS Y EPO X EPO Y 1212.25 481.12 5651.71 8132.06 1992.07 167.64 7601.20 13678.63 90.32 315.75 7161.26 337.25 385.99 1193.50 927.65 2132.60 1215.45 1151.37 963.63 7945.95 Center Pixel Coordinates: 4211.50 274.73024014757 7294.50 -13.85179773500
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
https://www.stsci.edu/
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
https://www.stsci.edu/copyright
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-J-p22052a-f-8423x14589.tif
Metadata Date
2022-10-18T09:31:40-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
×

 

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

×
Universescalefull
6,500 light years