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.
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.
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.
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.