October 20 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 October 20

Pillars of Creation

Image Credit: Science – NASAESACSASTScINIRCam
Processing – Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Explanation: A now famous picture from the Hubble Space Telescope featured these star forming columns of cold gas and dust light-years long inside M16, the Eagle Nebula, dubbed the Pillars of Creation. This James Webb Space Telescope NIRCam image expands Hubble’s exploration of that region in greater detail and depth inside the iconic stellar nursery. Particularly stunning in Webb’s near infrared view is the telltale reddish emission from knots of material undergoing gravitational collapse to form stars within the natal clouds. The Eagle Nebula is some 6,500 light-years distant. The larger bright emission nebula is itself an easy target for binoculars or small telescopes. M16 lies along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in a nebula rich part of the sky, toward the split constellation Serpens Cauda (the tail of the snake).