NASA's New Photo of the Star-Filled Pillars of Creation Is a Cosmic Spectacle


This is a true visual delight. NASA, through the James Webb telescope, just captured this laser-sharp view of the otherworldly Pillars of Creation. Here, we get to see "scores of newly formed stars glisten like dewdrops among floating, translucent columns of gas and dust." How poetic is that?

It's familiar because we might have seen it before, as in, like, way before. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope got its first image of the Pillars of Creation in 1995 and had revisited it in 2014. This new photo, on the other hand, was taken in near-infrared light, which is apparently invisible to the human eye. Science as a superpower—very cool.

The Pillars of Creation, now.

Photo by NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.

A side-by-side comparison between the image from 2014 and 2022.

Photo by NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.


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According to NASA, the Pillars of Creation help us gain a much more profound understanding of how stars form and burst out of the clouds. We can track millions of years' worth of progress through this image, really. With it, we can better identify more precise counts of newborn stars and the gas and dust that come with them. The photo comes from within the vast Eagle Nebula, situated more than 6,500 light-years away.

The thing that stands out most from this image are the newly formed stars. These are the bright red orbs that are usually found outside the dusty pillars. New stars come about when knots with sufficient mass form within the pillars of gas and dust. As they begin to collapse, they heat up and go boom. Hence, these beautiful little bastards.

Meanwhile, those wave lines we see are "ejections" from the stars that are yet to become within the gas and dust. NASA says that young stars shoot out supersonic jets periodically (who knew they could sound this cool with their sentences?). These jets collide with clouds of the aforementioned material. Such is the case with the pillars we observe. Other times, these collisions produce bow shocks. Thus, creating more wavy patterns. Think: boats navigating through waters, as NASA puts it.

There's also this enamoring crimson glow. These come from energetic hydrogen molecules that come after the jets and shocks. This is most evident in the second and third pillars above. NASA reports that these are approximately only a few hundred years old, much younger than their million-year-old buddies.

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While we do get to pierce through the clouds with this, we are yet to see any galaxies here, NASA notes. Hey, we'll take what we can get. At the end of the day, we got to thank the Webb Space telescope for this incredible undertaking.

At the rate technology is going, researchers are most likely bound to find more details around this peculiar region. Space, in its boundlessness, after all, is a continuous overflow of stars, weird things, and the deeper universe (whatever that means). In many ways, we're just entering a new age for exploration. Think of this as a new starting point. In the near future, we're only going to get a clearer perspective on the Milky Way and, well, the way-too-humanly foreign unknown.

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About The Author
Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is a Filipino cultural critic, editor, and essayist. He writes about art, books, travel, people, current events, and all the magic in between. His past work in film and media can be found on PeopleAsia Magazine, The Philippine Star, MANILA BULLETIN, and IMDB.
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