James Webb Space Telescope Captures New Details of Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’

NASA recently hit an asteroid with a spacecraft to try to knock it off course. The Hubble Space Telescope took a new picture of the asteroid, which shows for the first time a twin tail of dust trailing behind the asteroid system.

The area is in the Eagle Nebula, which is about 6,500 light-years from Earth. In 1995, the Hubble Telescope took a picture of the area, which space experts called “iconic.”

The Webb telescope’s Near-Infrared Camera, also called NIRCam, gave astronomers a new, closer look at the area. It peered through some of the dusty plumes to show more newborn stars that shine bright red.

James Webb Space Telescope Pillars Creation
James Webb Space Telescope Pillars Creation

A news release from the European Space Agency says that the stars that steal the show are the ones that are just starting to form. “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.”

Since Hubble took the first picture of the area in the 1990s, astronomers have gone back to look at it more than once. For example, the ESA William Herschel Telescope took a picture of the area where stars are born, and Hubble made a follow-up picture in 2014. ESA says that when scientists point a new instrument at the area, they learn something new.

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“There are wavy lines that look like lava around the edges of the pillars. These are jets from stars that are still making themselves. A news release says, “Sometimes, young stars send out jets that can interact with clouds of matter, like these thick pillars of gas and dust.”

“This can also cause bow shocks, which can look like waves in the water when a boat moves through it,” it says. “These young stars are only a few hundred thousand years old, and they will keep forming for millions more.”

NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency all take care of Webb. The $10 billion space observatory was launched in December of last year. It has enough fuel to keep taking pictures of the universe that have never been seen before for about 20 years.

Compared to what other telescopes can do, the space observatory’s powerful, large mirror and infrared light technology can help find faint, faraway galaxies that would otherwise be invisible. Webb could also help us learn more about how the universe began.

Some of Webb’s first images, which have been coming out since July, have shown how the observatory can show things about the universe that have never been seen before, like the birth of stars that are covered in dust.

But astronomers are also using the telescope’s stable and clear images to shed light on our own solar system. So far, it has been used to take pictures of Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune.

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