A photograph taken by the Hubble Space telescope is thought to be one of the most amazing space photographs ever captured. Known as the “Pillars of Creation,” the image reveals interstellar gas and dust within the Eagle Nebula, and slightly resembles elephant trunks.
The Pillars Of Creation’s Legacy
Taken on April 1 in 1995, the “Pillars of Creation” was named one of the top ten photographs from Hubble by Space.com. Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen are the astronomers responsible for this historical photograph, which specifically depicts the process of creating new stars with illumination coming from within.
MUSE, a Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, created by the European Southern Observatory, is now bringing the Hubble photo into a spectacular, 3D view. MUSE is a second transition instrument in development for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) run by the European Southern Observatory and located in Chile. The VLT offers a panoramic spectrograph operating in a wavelength range that’s visible. A wide field of view with an improved spatial resolution provided by adaptive optics help to turn the famous Hubble photo of the Pillars of Creation into a 3D image.
The process is similar to the one used to make a movie. It’s shown in visible light, capturing the “multi-colored aura of gas clouds, the wispy tendrils of the dark cosmic dust” and the rustic elephant trunks of the Nebula’s outstanding pillars. An image as strong and vibrant as this invokes better contrast and a clearer view for astronomers to study everything that they may have missed before. It has also shown astronomers how the structures of the famous pillars have changed over time.
Scientists, astronomers and fans alike can only marvel at the Pillars of Creation for the next three million years. After that, scientists believe that the pillars, located about seven thousand light years from Earth, will fully evaporate. Hubble photos taken over time actually show the stages of this rapid evaporation. This is especially true now that the image can be viewed realistically. Astronomers say the next three million years will pass in a blink of an eye – at least in the framework of universe time.
We have come a long way in order to reach space – starting with flight: