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.

2010 March 28
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M16: Pillars of Creation
Credit: J. Hester, P. Scowen (ASU), HST, NASA

Explanation: It has become one of the most famous images of modern times. This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, shows evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen gas and dust. The giant pillars are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas contracts gravitationally to form stars. At each pillars' end, the intense radiation of bright young stars causes low density material to boil away, leaving stellar nurseries of dense EGGs exposed. The Eagle Nebula, associated with the open star cluster M16, lies about 7000 light years away. The pillars of creation were again imaged by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, and it was found that most EGGS are not strong emitters of X-rays.

Tomorrow's picture: moonset bay

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