Astro-Images | Pillars of Creation

I’ve created color composites from three grayscale images using the technique in this post. The colors assigned are not necessarily what the human eye would see, but are used to bring out details. Unless otherwise noted, all images used three original grayscales from the Hubble Legacy Archive. Visit the gallery of previous Astro-Images.


NGC 6611 From ESO

The Eagle Nebula is about 7000 lt yrs distant in the constellation Serpens of the southern skies. The cluster of bright stars at the core was discovered by Jean-Philippe de Chéseaux in 1745-46. Images today show much more detail than Chéseaux was able to see. This image made from 3 greyscale components by the European Southern Observatory in 2009 shows those details. The very bright open cluster of stars barely right of center causes gases to glow and silhouettes of the dust regions. Those bright young stars formed 1-2 million yrs ago.

ESO | European Southern Observatory



The Iowa Connection

Curious whether the nebula was visible from the southern United States, I requested an image from the University of Iowa Gemini robotic telescope in Arizona. Yes, the stars of the cluster and three dust columns were visible.

Gemini | University of Iowa

Gemini | University of Iowa



My Hubble Telescope View

I searched the Hubble Archive for images of the three dust pillars of the Eagle Nebula in red, green, and blue filtered greyscale. From these, I merged them into this composite. It is my favorite of the NGC series of Astro-Images. The three dust columns are called the Pillars of Creation. They are composed of cool hydrogen gas eroded toward the bottom of the image by the intensely hot young stars out of view above the image frame. Several small fingerlike projections point upward. At their tips are star formation regions larger than our solar system. Young new stars are incubated within these fingertips.

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen


Hubble’s Latest View

The Hubble Telescope scientists imaged the Eagle Nebula again in October 2014 in higher resolution. Their image is one of the most iconic ever released. It is inspiring and humbling at the same time. Click it for a more detailed view.

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)



11 thoughts on “Astro-Images | Pillars of Creation

  1. Now, this is one I’ve seen: the Eagle nebula. It’s so striking, and somehow just a touch spooky. Perhaps that’s because it hints of the over-the-top spider webbing in haunted houses. In any event, it’s beyond words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saved the best and most familiar for last. I am so glad you like it. Spider webs and haunted houses were terms I wouldn’t have thought of. But, I can see why you say that. 🙂


I'd like to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s