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The Pillars of Creation in 3D

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2015 15:33
Published on Thursday, 30 April 2015 10:00

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have created an amazing 3D image of the iconic 'Pillars of Creation', a 7000 light years-distant region of the Eagle Nebula made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s. They publish their work in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.



eso1518b smallThis colour view was created from observations of the Pillars of Creation made with the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The parts of the three-dimensional MUSE data cube that correspond to emission from different chemical elements in the clouds have been extracted and combined to create this colour view of the region. Credit: ESO. Click for a full-size imageThe scientists used the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to create the new visualisation. It shows the distribution of the pillars in space, revealing new details like a previously unseen jet from a young star.

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.


Further information

For more details see the full ESO press release.

The research appears in A. F. McLeod et al., "The Pillars of Creation revisited with MUSE: gas kinematics and high-mass stellar feedback traced by optical spectroscopy", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press, published by Oxford University Press.


Space Scoop

spacescoop-logo smallA Space Scoop version of this story is available, written for children aged 8 and above.