Scientist have managed to create a 3D view of the famous hubble image The Pillars Of Creation. And it looks absolutely stunning! Check it out!
Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have produced the first complete three-dimensional view of the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, Messier 16, made famous in an image from NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
The new observations demonstrate how the different dusty pillars of this iconic object are distributed in space and reveal many new details — including a previously unseen jet from a young star. Intense radiation and stellar winds from the cluster’s brilliant stars have sculpted the dusty Pillars of Creation over time and should fully evaporate them in about three million years.
MUSE has shown that the tip of the left pillar is facing us, atop a pillar that is is actually situated behind NGC 6611, unlike the other pillars. This tip is bearing the brunt of the radiation from NGC 6611’s stars, and as a result looks brighter to our eyes than the bottom left, middle and right pillars, whose tips are all pointed away from our view.
Astronomers hope to better understand how young O and B stars like those in NGC 6611 influence the formation of subsequent stars. Numerous studies have identified protostars forming in these clouds — they are indeed Pillars of Creation. The new study also reports fresh evidence for two gestating stars in the left and middle pillars as well as a jet from a young star that had escaped attention up to now.
For more stars to form in environments like the Pillars of Creation, it is a race against time as intense radiation from the powerful stars that are already shining continues to grind away at the pillars.
By measuring the Pillars of Creation’s rate of evaporation, MUSE has given astronomers a time frame for when the pillars will be no more. They shed about 70 times the mass of the Sun every million years or so. Based on the their present mass of about 200 times that of the Sun, the Pillars of Creation have an expected lifetime of perhaps three million more years — an eyeblink in cosmic time. It seems that an equally apt name for these iconic cosmic columns might be the Pillars of Destruction.
The left pillar, considered as a complete object from top to bottom, is estimated to be about four light-years in length. It is the longest pillar and about twice the height of the right pillar.
Each pixel in the data corresponds to a spectrum that reveals a host of information about the motions and physical conditions of the gas at that point. The slices of the data corresponding to some of the different chemical elements present are highlighted.