the eagle nebula

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How the Hubble Space Telescope changed the Universe

“And so this camera has taught us a lot about how stars die. But what it’s also told us about is how and where they’re born! You see, these nebulae don’t just dissipate after a few thousand years; they often spit out entire star systems worth of gas, and trigger the formation of new stars. One of the most spectacular pictures took place deep inside the Eagle Nebula.

And when Hubble imaged the pillars at the center of it, it was one of the most amazing things ever.”

Over its more than 25 year lifetime, the Hubble Space Telescope has shown us what the Universe truly looks like. It’s done so in a myriad of ways, from planets to stars – dying and forming – to galaxies to gravity’s effects to the deepest abysses of blackness of all. Nothing in space is the same as it was before humanity knew Hubble. Yet even the camera most responsible for our iconic images, WFPC2, isn’t the end of the story. That camera was removed in 2009, and in the 8 years since, we’ve deepened our views and our understanding even further. Even before the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, our journey into the unknown Universe continues with Hubble in a way we never could have imagined when the observatory was first launched.

Come see for yourself in far more images than you’ve ever seen at once before!

The Fairy of The Eagle Nebula - M16

“The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined asmythical beasts. Pictured above is one of several striking dust pillars of the Eagle Nebula that might be described as a gigantic alien fairy. This fairy, however, is ten light years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire. The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars. The above image in scientifically re-assigned colors was released in 2005 as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Credit: NASA/Hubble/APOD

This is the iconic “Pillars of Creation” as rarely seen. The image was taken in near-infrared light by Hubble and reveals eerie silhouettes of the pillars.

Near-infrared light allows astronomers to penetrate much of the gas and dust and uncover stars behind the nebula as well as hidden away inside the pillars. The bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars is material getting heated and evaporated into space by the intense ultraviolet radiation from a cluster of young stars just outside of the image.

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