Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope astronomers have assembled a bigger and sharper photograph of the iconic Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation"
Hubble Heritage Team/ESA/NASA
By Nolan Feeney
January 6, 2015

The Pillars of Creation quickly become one of the most iconic images of outer space after the photograph was taken in 1995. Now, to celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope in April, Hubble is taking a trip down memory lane — and back into the far corners of the Eagle Nebula.

A new, high-definition photo recently unveiled at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle provides an even sharper, wider and colorful view of three massive gas columns and their surrounding celestial neighbors in near-infrared light. NASA said the frame “hints that they are also pillars of destruction.”

“I’m impressed by how transitory these structures are,” Paul Scowen of Arizona State University, who worked on the initial Hubble observations of the Eagle Nebula, told NASA. “They are actively being ablated away before our very eyes. The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars is material getting heated up and evaporating away into space. We have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution.”

The original image of the "Pillars of Creation" taken by the Hubble Telescope in 1995.
Hubble Heritage Team/ESA/NASA

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.

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