March 14 Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2022 March 14

Star Formation in the Eagle Nebula

Image Credit: NASAESAHubbleProcessing & Copyright: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo & Diego Gravinese

Explanation: Where do stars form? One place, star forming regions known as “EGGs”, are being uncovered at the end of this giant pillar of gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula (M16). Short for evaporating gaseous globules, EGGs are dense regions of mostly molecular hydrogen gas that fragment and gravitationally collapse to form stars. Light from the hottest and brightest of these new stars heats the end of the pillar and causes further evaporation of gas and dust — revealing yet more EGGs and more young stars. This featured picture was created from exposures spanning over 30 hours with the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, and digitally processed with modern software by experienced volunteers in Argentina. Newborn stars will gradually destroy their birth pillars over the next 100,000 years or so — if a supernova doesn’t destroy them first.