Pillars of Creation (MIRI Image)

Stsci_2022-053a_1024

stsci_2022-053a October 31st, 2022

Credit: IMAGE: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s mid-infrared view of the Pillars of Creation strikes a chilling tone. Thousands of stars that exist in this region disappear – and seemingly endless layers of gas and dust become the centerpiece.

The detection of dust by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is extremely important – dust is a major ingredient for star formation. Many stars are actively forming in these dense blue-gray pillars. When knots of gas and dust with sufficient mass form in these regions, they begin to collapse under their own gravitational attraction, slowly heat up – and eventually form new stars.

Although the stars appear missing, they aren’t. Stars typically do not emit much mid-infrared light. Instead, they are easiest to detect in ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. In this MIRI view, two types of stars can be identified. The stars at the end of the thick, dusty pillars have recently eroded the material surrounding them. They show up in red because their atmospheres are still enshrouded in cloaks of dust. In contrast, blue tones indicate stars that are older and have shed most of their gas and dust.

Mid-infrared light also details dense regions of gas and dust. The red region toward the top, which forms a delicate V shape, is where the dust is both diffuse and cooler. And although it may seem like the scene clears toward the bottom left of this view, the darkest gray areas are where densest and coolest regions of dust lie. Notice that there are many fewer stars and no background galaxies popping into view.

Webb’s mid-infrared data will help researchers determine exactly how much dust is in this region – and what it’s made of. These details will make models of the Pillars of Creation far more precise. Over time, we will begin to more clearly understand how stars form and burst out of these dusty clouds over millions of years.

Contrast this view with Webb’s near-infrared light image.

MIRI was contributed by ESA and NASA, with the instrument designed and built by a consortium of nationally funded European Institutes (the MIRI European Consortium) in partnership with JPL and the University of Arizona.

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-053

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://stsci.edu/copyright/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
M16 Eagle Nebula Pillars of Creation
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation

Distance

Universescale1
6,500 light years
Stsci_2022-053a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 18h 18m 54.3s
DEC = -13° 50’ 35.7”
Orientation
North is 7.3° CW
Field of View
3.7 x 3.4 arcminutes
Constellation
Serpens

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Webb (MIRI) Infrared 770.0 nm
Green Webb (MIRI) Infrared 1.1 µm
Red Webb (MIRI) Infrared 1.5 µm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Green
Red
Stsci_2022-053a_1280
×
ID
2022-053a
Subject Category
B.4.1.2  
Subject Name
M16, Eagle Nebula, Pillars of Creation
Credits
IMAGE: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
Release Date
2022-10-31
Lightyears
6,500
Redshift
6,500
Reference Url
https://webbtelescope.org/contents/news-releases/2022/news-2022-053
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Webb, Webb, Webb
Instrument
MIRI, MIRI, MIRI
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
770, 1130, 1500
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
274.72620867268, -13.84323693948
Reference Dimension
1987.00, 1817.00
Reference Pixel
989.12506281128, 726.46404596060
Scale
-0.00003080431, 0.00003080431
Rotation
-7.25126029454
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
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://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
http://stsci.edu/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-J-p22053a-f-1987x1817.tif
Metadata Date
2022-10-28T15:25:55-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
×

 

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
6,500 light years