NASA has shared a stunning new image some 6,500 light years away from Earth, which has been captured by the James Webb Telescope.
The picture is a stunning near-infrared light view of the ‘Pillars of Creation’, a cosmic landscape where new stars are forming within dense clouds of gas and dust, located within the vast Eagle Nebula thousands of light-years away.
The Pillars of Creation were first made famous in 1995, when the arrangement of stars was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The latest image, however, shows the pillars in their greatest detail yet, thanks to the James Webb Telescope’s Near-Infrared Camera.
As NASA explains in a press release, the three-dimensional columns seen in the new image may look like ‘majestic rock formations’, but are actually far more permeable, as they are in fact made up of ‘cool interstellar gas and dust that appear – at times – semi-transparent in near-infrared light’.
"Webb’s new view of the Pillars of Creation, which were first made famous when imaged by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, will help researchers revamp their models of star formation by identifying far more precise counts of newly formed stars, along with the quantities of gas and dust in the region,” the press release said.
“Over time, they will begin to build a clearer understanding of how stars form and burst out of these dusty clouds over millions of years.”
After first being imaged in 1995, it was revisited in 2014, although NASA said many observatories have also ‘stared deeply’ at the region, with each advanced instrument offering experts new and interesting details.
Comparing its earlier image with the newer one, NASA said: “ASA's Hubble Space Telescope made the Pillars of Creation famous with its first image in 1995, but revisited the scene in 2014 to reveal a sharper, wider view in visible light, shown above at left.
“A new, near-infrared-light view from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, at right, helps us peer through more of the dust in this star-forming region. The thick, dusty brown pillars are no longer as opaque and many more red stars that are still forming come into view.”
The James Webb Space Telescope is a space science observatory led by NASA and its partners the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, which NASA says 'will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it'.
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