The James Webb Space Telescope captured the iconic ” Pillars of Creation ,” huge star-studded structures of gas and dust, NASA reported Wednesday, and the picture is as majestic as you’d expect.
The twinkling of thousands of stars illuminates the telescope’s first shot of the columns of gold, copper, and brown rising from the midst of the cosmos.
At the ends of several pillars are bright red patches, resembling lava. “These are ejections from stars that are still forming,” NASA said in a statement.
These “young stars periodically launch supersonic jets that collide with clouds of material, like these thick pillars,” the US space agency added.
The “Pillars of Creation” are located 6,500 light-years from Earth, in the Eagle Nebula of our Milky Way.
The pillars were made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope, which first captured them in 1995 and then again in 2014.
But thanks to the infrared capabilities of Webb’s newest telescope, launched into space less than a year ago, they were able to peer through the opacity of the pillars, revealing many new stars in formation.
The image, which covers an area about eight light-years, was taken by Webb’s main NIRCam imager, which captures near-infrared wavelengths invisible to the human eye.
According to NASA, the new image “will help researchers revamp their models of star formation by identifying much more accurate counts of newly formed stars, along with the amounts of gas and dust in the region.”
Up and running since July, Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built and has already unleashed an unprecedented wealth of data. Scientists hope it heralds a new age of discovery.
One of the main objectives of the 10 billion dollar project is to study the life cycle of stars. Another main focus of research is exoplanets, planets outside of Earth’s solar system.