To celebrate its 20th anniversary, NASA's iconic "Pillars of Creation" photo has been recaptured in stunning detail. The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a new, larger, high definition image of the pillars, which was then combined with several other Hubble images to create the best look yet. Originally captured by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 back in 1995, the "Pillars of Creation" depicts three gaseous clouds that stretch five light-years high. They're located in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, some 6,500 light-years away from Earth. "Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust," NASA explains. The new version is not only bigger, but more colorful as well, rendering oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen in brilliant blues, oranges, and greens. "We coloured it that way not because it was pretty, but because it told you something about the physics," Arizona State University's Paul Scowen told New Scientist. "Although it was pretty."
Images courtesy hubblesite.com.
- The original image, captured in 1995. Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, and J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)
- "The near-infrared light can penetrate much of the gas and dust, revealing stars behind the nebula as well as hidden away inside the pillars," says NASA. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
- The new, enhanced version captured last year using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)