NASA released a new picture of an old friend this week after the Hubble Space Telescope snapped an image of the Pillars of Creation.
The iconic telescope first captured this small section of M16, the Eagle Nebula, in 1995, revealing three towering pillars of gas courtesy of nascent stars. But despite their ethereal appearance, this is no gentle cradle of life.
In fact, the birth of stars in this area is so violent, atoms of gas are torn apart in a process called ionization. Charged particles and radiation whip into celestial winds so chaotic they blast away the tops of the pillars, as seen in the leftmost column. (See "Hubble Revisits an Icon, the Pillars of Creation.")
—By Jane J. Lee, photo gallery by Mallory Benedict
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