Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

November 6, 1995
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M16: Stars Upon Pillars
Credit: NASA, HST, J. Hester & P. Scowen (ASU)

Explanation: How do stars form? This stunning picture taken recently by the Hubble Space Telescope gives us a first hand glimpse. Here evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) are captured emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen and dust in the Eagle Nebula (M16). These pillars, dubbed "elephant trunks," are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas gravitationally contracts to form stars. At each pillars' end, the intense radiation of bright young stars causes low density gas to boil away, leaving stellar nurseries of dense EGGs exposed.

Tomorrow's picture: Eagle EGGs in M16

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
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