The Pillars of Creation sit inside a large region of gas and dust being pushed from the inside out by powerful stellar winds. The winds blow back the edges of the cloud, creating dense regions that then collapse under their own gravity to form stars. The characteristic fingers of the Pillars are some of the densest gas in this region, hanging on against the strong winds. In the visible-light view (taken by a ground-based telescope), they are entirely in shadow. The visible view shows the illumination of the inside of the gas and dust. Infrared views (taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory) reveals the massive, sculpted cavern walls that Webb will see in high definition. ESA’s XMM-Newton shows the massive stars doing the sculpting, pouring off hot, ionizing winds that push back the gas and dust.
Optical: The illumination of the inside of the gas and dust.
X-ray: Massive stars pour off hot, ionizing winds that push back the gas and dust.
Near-Infrared: Cooler towers and field of dust (in green) reveal many young stars.
Far-Infrared: Massive, sculpted cavern walls that Webb will see in high definition are revealed.
Video: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI); Visible: MPG, ESO and NOAO; Near-Infrared: NASA, JPL-Caltech/N.Flagey (IAS, SSC) and the MIPSGAL Science Team; Far-Infrared: ESA, Herschel, PACS, SPIRE, Hill, Motte, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium; X-ray: ESA, XMM-Newton, EPIC, XMM-Newton-SOC, Boulanger.
Publication: June 4, 2018