Extraordinary image captured by the James Webb telescope shows the haunting, finger-like shapes in part of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region located some 6,500 light-years away.
It has skillfully photographed spooky spiral galaxies, the rings and moons of Neptune and the creepy-crawly Tarantula Nebula. But finally, the James Webb Space Telescope has turned its attention toward one of the most iconic celestial bodies in the universe: the Pillars of Creation.
Even NASA acknowledged the eager anticipation surrounding when Webb would at last capture the majestic arm of the star-forming Eagle Nebula: “This is what you’ve waited for,” the space agency tweeted.
Webb’s image, captured by its Near-Infrared Camera, shows the Pillars of Creation in strikingly crisp detail. The dust-filled plumes are a rusty orange-brown, like “arches and spires rising out of a desert landscape,” wrote NASA.
Bright stars sparkle against the deep blackish-blue backdrop of space. Crimson, lava-like shapes near the edges of the pillars show the glow of hydrogen molecules created when baby stars eject supersonic jets as they form. Bright red orbs floating within the mass of gas and dust, meanwhile, pinpoint the locations of newly born stars.