A new photo captures an improved view of the famous space object, 20 years after it was first photographed.
The ‘Pillars of Creation’ are part of the Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16, and upgrades to the Hubble telescope have allowed scientists to sharpen and widen the image.
Paul Scowen of Arizona State University was part of the team which took the original image, and claims that the new one “allows us to demonstrate how far Hubble has come in 25 years of observation.”
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Hubble’s finest hour?
Upon its discovery in 1995, the Eagle Nebula view was named the ‘Pillars of Creation,’ and became debatably the most well-known image captured by Hubble. It has featured on such varied items as stamps, T-shirts and pillows, even appearing on TV and in movies.
The Nebula, a region of gas and dust where stars form, is located around 7,000 light years from the sun. The latest image was captured using the Wide Field Camera 3, a Hubble upgrade that was installed in 2009, which allows for photos of twice the resolution of the original, which was taken by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.
The image shows areas of different color, due to the various elements contained in the Pillars. Singly ionized sulfur appears red, double-ionized oxygen is blue and hydrogen shows up green.
Revealing the evolution of the Pillars
Another new image of the Eagle Nebula was taken in the infrared wavelength, in which “the pillars themselves become quite transparent,” according to Scowen. The infrared image reveals far more stars that were previously obscured by the Pillars.
The images show us changes that have occurred over the course of the past 20 years, including long jets created by protostar systems. Scowen claims that these jets are “signposts pointing back to ‘We just made a star right here.'” If you compare the new images to the old ones you can see that some of these jets have moved in the past two decades.
Scowen claims that the images represent “a remarkable example of what Hubble has been able to do in its lifetime.”