Category: pillars

This Is Why ‘Pillars’ In Space Mea…

This Is Why ‘Pillars’ In Space Mean Destruction, Not Creation

“In the heart of the Eagle Nebula, the iconic Pillars of Creation loom as one of Hubble’s greatest all-time sights. But very little is still being created in there, compared to the destruction that’s taking place. It’s true: there are new stars being formed inside, as the gas gravitational collapses down to grow the largest clumps of matter. But the reason you have a pillar shape at all is because of nearby, bright, external stars, which boil the gas away.”

Just because you have newly-forming proto-stars inside of you doesn’t mean you’re creating new things. You could, instead, be at the very end-stages of creation, where you’ve finished creating ~99% of everything your star-forming region is ever going to create, and only the last remnant stage — that of destruction — is left. Instead, these gas clumps are the final vestiges of an environment that houses already-born stars, in the process of boiling off. These gas globules aren’t collapsing and giving rise to stars; they’re evaporating away. What we’re witnessing is the aftermath of creation, not the start of it.

When you see phenomenal spectacular pillars in space, don’t think “creation” anymore. Destruction is far more accurate.

How Quickly Are The Pillars Of Creation Being Destroyed? “The…

How Quickly Are The Pillars Of Creation Being Destroyed?

“The new image includes infrared data, which penetrates the dust, revealing stars and showcasing where the gas (in blue, above) is evaporating.

Changes between the images indicate that the pillars are still intact today, even though the light we’re seeing came from 7,000 years ago.

The best evidence for changes comes at the base of the pillars, indicating an evaporation time of approximately 100,000 years.”

Are the beautiful and iconic Pillars of Creation, located deep within the Eagle Nebula, still around today? At a distant of 7,000 light years, the Pillars could have been destroyed at any point from about 5,000 B.C. to the present, and we’d have no way of knowing. When they were first imaged in 1995, many speculated that the nebula, containing new stars and many supernova candidates, may have already destroyed these dusty structures by now. In 2007, a study by the Spitzer Space Telescope showed off some hot, glowing dust, perhaps indicating a supernova that took place some 8000-9000 years ago. But the most recent data from Hubble, in both the visible and infrared combined, not only teaches us that the supernova was an unlikely explanation for the dust, but allowed us to measure the true rate of evaporation of the Pillars themselves.

It looks like they’re not only still here today, but will likely be around for 100,000 years or more! Come find out the latest on the Pillars of Creation on today’s Mostly Mute Monday.