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Eagle Nebula Multi-Wavelength View [720p] [3D converted]

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Uploaded on Jan 17, 2012

The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory has made observations at far infrared wavelengths toward one of the most iconic images in astronomy: the "Pillars of Creation". The region around the Pillars in the stunning Hubble Space Telescope image of these three towering pillars of gas and dust, originally taken in 1995, has now been re-observed with Herschel. This region in fact is only a small part of the Eagle Nebula, a star formation region which lies 6500 light years away. The new Herschel observations highlight the processes occurring within the pillars, and the locations of stars that are forming throughout the surrounding area.

The three pillars, made of gas and dust, are each several light-years in length and are at the center of an incredibly complex region 30-40 light-years across. The pillars are the remnants of a much larger cloud which has been eroded away by a cluster of hot, young stars near the tips of the pillars. The densest pockets of gas and dust, called "evaporating gaseous globules" (or EGGs), resist the erosion, creating the beautiful structures seen here. The EGGs are highlighted

The EGGs are thought to contain very young stars, but views of the region in visible light can only tell astronomers so much. Cold dust, made up of small grains of carbon and silicates blocks out the light from stars within or beyond the pillars, with the only illumination coming from the outer layers of gas that are energised by the intense light from nearby stars. The Herschel Space Observatory, meanwhile, sees far-infrared light, with wavelengths thousands of times longer than visible light. Rather than seeing the pillars as dark silhouettes, Herschel sees the clouds of dust glowing in their own light.

credit: (far-infrared: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Hill, Motte, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium; ESA/XMM-Newton/EPIC/XMM-Newton-SOC/Boula­nger); (optical: MPG/ESO); (near-infrared/VLT/ISAAC/McCaughrean & Andersen/AIP/ESO)

source: http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/results/eagl...

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