In the new image, the Webb telescope’s near-infrared camera cut through the dust to see the stars more clearly — “like never before,” as NASA put it.
These youngsters are estimated to be “only a few hundred thousand years,” the agency said Wednesday.
Stars come from collapsing clouds of interstellar material: Clumps of mass that form within the pillars of gas and dust begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and form new stars.
“See those wavy lines that look like lava at the edges of the pillars? These are baby stars that are forming within the gas & dust,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
Behold…the Pillars of Creation!
Using @NASAWebb's NIRCam, we're able to see this iconic star-forming region in a new way. See those wavy lines that look like lava at the edges of the pillars? These are baby stars that are forming within the gas & dust: https://t.co/CGaIpmAROf pic.twitter.com/6BbW9wBHsk
— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) October 19, 2022
The scientific importance of this work cannot be overstated, but the newly released image will also make a great phone or desktop background. You can even download the full-resolution version suitable for printing directly from NASA. It clocks in at a whopping 163MB.
From about a million miles from Earth, the Webb telescope is peering deeper into space.The $10 billion telescope, which launched last Christmas day, is a joint effort with the European and Canadian space agencies. Its name drew criticism when some scientists argued former NASA leader James Webb was complicit in discrimination of LGBTQ employees between the ’40s and ’60s, but NASA said it found no evidence to warrant renaming the telescope.
Webb’s image will enable researchers to update their models of star formation, the space agency said, helping us to learn more about how stars develop before they burst out of these dusty clouds over a period of millions of years.
After launching in December 2021, the Webb telescope is now in an orbit around a million miles from Earth as it peers toward deep space in a bid to learn more about the origins of the universe.
The telescope’s ability to capture wavelengths of light inaccessible to its predecessor, the Hubble, has allowed NASA to revisit images from space in greater detail, sometimes puzzling astronomers. It has delivered new observations of faraway galaxies, and cosmic photos of Jupiter, a giant asteroid and a newly discovered comet.