NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken a bigger and sharper photograph of the iconic Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation," shown at right. The original 1995 Hubble image of the gaseous towers, taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, is shown at left.
Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble a wider view of the pillars, which stretch about 5 light-years high in the new image. The dark, finger-like feature at bottom right may be a smaller version of the giant pillars. The image was taken with Hubble's versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3.
The pillars are bathed in the blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth.
In the new image at right, oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green.