Europe’s Herschel space telescope has produced a majestic new version of a classic astronomical target – the Eagle Nebula, also called M16.
This dense region of gas and dust some 6,500 light-years from Earth hosts copious numbers of bright new stars.
Look just below the centre of the image and you will see the columns that were famously dubbed the “Pillars of Creation” when they were pictured by the Hubble telescope in 1995.
But Herschel and Hubble see distinctly different things in the nebula.
Hubble is sensitive to optical light, the kind of light we detect with our eyes. This is easily blocked or scattered by the dust, and shows us merely the shape of the billowing clouds of material.
Herschel, on the other hand, is sensitive to much longer wavelength radiation, in far-infrared. This enables it to detect the emission coming directly from the cold gas and dust that cloaks so much of the region.
The picture is being featured on the BBC’s Stargazing Live series.
Sourced by Roy W. Nash