NASA’s Webb takes a picture of the Pillars of Creation that is full of stars.


NASA’s Webb takes a picture of the Pillars of Creation that is full of stars. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has taken a picture of the famous Pillars of Creation, a lush, detailed landscape where new stars are being born in dense clouds of gas and dust. The three-dimensional pillars look like majestic rock formations, but they are much more open. 

These columns are made up of cool interstellar gas and dust that, in near-infrared light, sometimes looks like it’s almost see-through.

Webb’s new view of the Pillars of Creation, which became famous when NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of them in 1995, will help scientists update their models of how stars form by giving them much more accurate counts of newly formed stars and amounts of gas and dust in the area. 

Over time, they will start to get a better idea of how stars are made and how they burst out of these dusty clouds. This picture from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera is all about newly formed stars (NIRCam).

These are the bright red orbs that are usually near one of the dusty pillars and have spikes that bend light. When knots with enough mass form in the columns of gas and dust, they start to fall apart under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and eventually form new stars.

What are those wavy lines at the edges of some pillars that look like lava? These are jets from stars that are still forming in the gas and dust. Sometimes, young stars send out supersonic jets that crash into clouds of matter, like these thick pillars.

This can also cause bow shocks, which can look like waves in the water as a boat moves through it. Jets and shocks create energetic hydrogen molecules that give off the red glow. This is clear in the second and third pillars from the top, which are so busy that the NIRCam image seems to be beating. Scientists think that these young stars are only a few hundred thousand years old.

Even though it looks like Webb used near-infrared light to “pierce through” the clouds and see a lot of space beyond the pillars, this view does not show any galaxies. Instead, our view of the deeper universe is blocked by the interstellar medium, which is a mix of gas and dust that is see-through. It is found in the densest part of the Milky Way galaxy’s disc.

Hubble took the first picture of this scene in 1995, and it did so again in 2014. However, many other observatories have also looked closely at this area. Each high-tech tool gives scientists new information about this area, which is so full of stars that it seems to be overflowing.

This image is a close-up of the Eagle Nebula, a huge cloud of gas and dust that is 6,500 light-years away.