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News Release 73 of 1040

January 5, 2015 05:15 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2015-01

Hubble Goes High Def to Revisit the Iconic 'Pillars of Creation'

A Hubble Heritage Release / An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 5, 2015: Although NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken many breathtaking images of the universe, one snapshot stands out from the rest: the iconic view of the so-called "Pillars of Creation." The jaw-dropping photo, READ: Junior version of this article Amazing Space Learn about this story in the Star Witness, a science newspaper available on our sister site, Amazing Space.  taken in 1995, revealed never-before-seen details of three giant columns of cold gas bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young, massive stars in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, or M16.

Though such butte-like features are common in star-forming regions, the M16 structures are by far the most photogenic and evocative. The Hubble image is so popular that it has appeared in movies and television shows, on tee-shirts and pillows, and even on a postage stamp. And now, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, Hubble has revisited the famous pillars, providing astronomers with a sharper and wider view, shown in the right-hand image. For comparison, the original 1995 Hubble image of the gaseous towers appears in the left-hand view. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)