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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Captures a new view of an iconic cosmic site ‘Pillars of Creation’.

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fatima khan
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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured a new view of an iconic cosmic site: the region known as the “Pillars of Creation,” where stars are born.The U.S. space agency’s Hubble Space Telescope first photographed the structure in 1995, revealing its columns of gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula star nursery 6,500 light-years away. It became one of the most famous Hubble photos.

Few Hubble images are as iconic as the Pillars of Creation, towering structures of interstellar gas in the Eagle Nebula. After first imaging the pillars in 1995, Hubble revisited them in 2014 with its upgraded camera hardware. Even that image cannot compare to the latest snapshot from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Webb shows the Pillars of Creation in unprecedented detail, revealing never-before-seen details that astronomers believe could help improve our understanding of stellar formation.

The Eagle Nebula is in the Serpens constellation, about 6,500 light years away from Earth. The pillars are just one small part of the nebula, but the largest of the three is about four light-years tall. That’s roughly the distance from the sun to Proxima Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbor. The structures are composed of cool interstellar gas, which looked mostly opaque to Hubble. However, the JWST’s infrared NIRCam makes the clouds semi-transparent. Thus, the new image multiplies the number of visible stars.

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.

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.

Images provided by NASA on Oct. 19 show the “Pillars of Creation” captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, left, and by the James Webb Telescope. (AP)

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.

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