the eagle nebula

The Eagle Nebula

The soaring pillar is 9.5 light-years, or about 57 trillion miles, high, about twice the distance from our Sun to the nearest star. Stars in the Eagle Nebula are born in clouds of cold hydrogen that reside in chaotic neighborhoods, where energy from young stars sculpts fantasy-like landscapes in the gas. The tower may be a giant incubator for those newborn stars. A torrent of ultraviolet light from a band of massive, hot, young stars (off the top of the image) is eroding the pillar.

Image credit: NASA

The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16, is an active young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens. They were discovered by Jean-Philippe de Chéseaux in 1745–46. It is most notable for containing the pillars of creation, which can be seen in the centre of this image. I think it looks so pretty; pink/purple and black always looks good.

Appearing like a winged creature poised on a pedestal, this object is actually a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from a stellar nursery called the Eagle Nebula. The soaring tower is 9.5 light-years high, about twice the distance from our Sun to the next nearest star

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How Quickly Are The Pillars Of Creation Being Destroyed?

“The new image includes infrared data, which penetrates the dust, revealing stars and showcasing where the gas (in blue, above) is evaporating. Changes between the images indicate that the pillars are still intact today, even though the light we’re seeing came from 7,000 years ago. The best evidence for changes comes at the base of the pillars, indicating an evaporation time of approximately 100,000 years.”

Are the beautiful and iconic Pillars of Creation, located deep within the Eagle Nebula, still around today? At a distant of 7,000 light years, the Pillars could have been destroyed at any point from about 5,000 B.C. to the present, and we’d have no way of knowing. When they were first imaged in 1995, many speculated that the nebula, containing new stars and many supernova candidates, may have already destroyed these dusty structures by now. In 2007, a study by the Spitzer Space Telescope showed off some hot, glowing dust, perhaps indicating a supernova that took place some 8000-9000 years ago. But the most recent data from Hubble, in both the visible and infrared combined, not only teaches us that the supernova was an unlikely explanation for the dust, but allowed us to measure the true rate of evaporation of the Pillars themselves.

It looks like they’re not only still here today, but will likely be around for 100,000 years or more! Come find out the latest on the Pillars of Creation on today’s Mostly Mute Monday.

Puns, lost in translation

Sometimes the true treasure of intergalactic relations are the puns you make along the way…

Let me start this story by saying that British English is a strange language. We have double meanings, homophones, homonyms and an almost unpalatable sarcastic use of the tongue.

Meet Gina. She’s a kitchen assistant in this story. She might make chef one day, if she cared enough.
Meet Hulu, He’s from a small planet near the Eagle nebula. He’s also a kitchen assistant, learning English as he goes.

Gina likes to dance, a LOT. More than is safe for most people. She’ll dance wherever and whenever she can, no matter what she’s doing! This isn’t to say she’s good at it, just enthusiastic. Hulu does not dance, he doesn’t really understand it, but wants to learn why so many humans do. Gina seems to be a prime candidate for explaining this (often terrifying behaviour).

One day, whilst preparing beetroot soup, she breaks into dance again, knives dancing across the board with her, scooping more veg into the pot. So Hulu asks:
“What drives you to dance all the time?”
Gina replies, “Why, it’s the beat man, you’ve got to feel the beat!”
“I don’t understand, you feel something when you dance…”
“Of course we do, you’ve got to feel it all the way and let the dance out!” With that last line, Gina picks up more vegetables, and boogies over to the stove. Hulu accepts that this is something he will never understand.

Next shift, Hulu is paired with head chef Boyle. This time, salad’s on the menu. The next question is where things go south…
“Hey Hulu, get the beets from the pantry”.
“Beets? I don’t know that word”.
“Beets, short for Beetroot, red root vegetable, top shelf”.

Now Hulu understands, to dance you need to feel the Beet! Gina dances her best when she’s cooking, that must be it! Armed with this new-found knowledge, Hulu goes out to the nightclub, well prepared with a bag of Beets. When the DJ says to drop the beet, he drops it! When his friends say they’re not feeling the beat at this club, he gives them a beet to help. They’re laughing, he’s having fun, surely he’s got it right!

Thanks to a poor grasp of English, and a kitchen misunderstanding, Hulu has created the greatest pun to ever hit that town, and he’ll never know it…

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The VST captures three spectacular nebulae in one image

Two of Sky’s most famous residents share the stage with a lesser-known neighbor in this massive three-gigapixel image of ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST). Above is the faint, glowing gas cloud called Sharpless 2-54, the iconic Eagle Nebula (Messier 16) in the center and the Omega Nebula (Messier 17) on the bottom. This cosmic trio makes up only a part of a vast complex of gas and dust within which new stars are living and illuminating their surroundings.

Credit: ESO

Headcanon time because there’s next to no info about Reyes and I’m Desperate: 

I was trawling through the ME wiki and came across a system in the Eagle Nebula called Amun. The system and the planets within are all named after figures or places in Egyptian mythology and history. There’s Anhur, Bast, Neith, Sekhmet, and Sobek. The system is mostly home to Batarians and humans. 

From 2176 to 2178, the system was the site of the Anhur Rebellions, a civil war that broke out when corrupt politicians and corporations basically relegalised slavery because Batarian legal slavery posed an economic threat. So, you got the mostly Batarian Na'hesit, who, ofc, wanted to keep slavery around, VS the rebels, who wanted to abolish slavery. 

WHICH brings me to my dude, Reyes Vidal. 

Firstly, we know that he used to be a shuttle pilot under the call sign Anubis, a god associated with, among other roles, guiding souls in Egyptian mythology. So ‘Anubis’ is interesting because I feel like that’s not really a name you’d use if you were everyday civilian transport. But it does sound like something you’d use if you were, say, a pilot in a war. Additionally, I have learnt that aviator call signs are given to military pilots in RL and can be inspired by things such as personality traits, historical figures, or the pilot’s exploits. 

Secondly, I think we can safely assume that he’s been in the business of smuggling, spying, and being a shady bastard for a while now. 

Thirdly, Reyes’ writer, Courtney Woods, has said that he’s in his late 20s. Let’s say he’s 28/29 and born in 2156 so he was about 19/20 in 2176. Basically, I’m fairly certain that he was alive back then. 

Fourthly, as not-exactly-good as he is, we know that he’s not a big fan of people with power who shit on people without power. 

Conclusion: Reyes Vidal was born in 2156 in the city of New Thebes on the planet Anhur in the Amun system of the Eagle Nebula. When he was 19, civil war broke out in the city after months of unrest between those who opposed the relegalisation of slavery and those who supported it. The fighting quickly swept across the entire system. 

A pretty good flier and not particularly keen on the idea of being enslaved, Reyes chose to join the rebels. He was given an N-503 shuttle and a weapon and told to get to it. 

Reyes wasn’t on the front lines and didn’t see much of the main fight. His job mostly involved smuggling supplies- food, medi-gel, ammo- across enemy lines, and if he could take out a few Na'hesit lackeys while he was at it, well, that was good too. 

During the war, Eclipse mercs found slave camps on Sobek’s moon, Heqet. He, along with others, helped to move people from Heqet to rebel-controlled safe houses. Subsequently, Reyes was given the call sign Anubis, ‘a ferrier of souls’. They really like Egyptian mythology in Amun. 

When the war ended in 2178, if you weren’t a rebel leader or dead, you disappeared into obscurity. So, after a brief stint as a rebel, Reyes Vidal was left very skilled at smuggling and very low on credits and we all know what happens seven years later.