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NASA's James Webb Telescope Just Brought the Iconic Pillars of Creation into 4K

It's too easy to get caught up in the mundane daily grind to the point that we forget about our place in the universe. But all it takes is one look at the stunning Pillars of Creation photograph originally taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to remind you about the grand scheme of things.
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NASA's newest telescope just made this segment of the cosmos even more awe-inspiring. This especially consequential collection of gas, dust, and proverbial soup of interesting elements and molecules resides in the Eagle Nebula, inside the larger constellation Serpens. Its diverse wealth of elements has coagulated, possibly over billions of years, into distinct pillar-like masses referred to as Elephant trunks.

Inside this primordial soup, masses of pre-stellar material pull themselves together through gravity. Each atom of hydrogen, oxygen, stellar dust, and other gasses and molecules exudes enough of a gravitational force on the other to mold portions of the gargantuan interstellar clouds into the next generation of proto-stars. Discovered by the team of Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen in 1995 using the Hubble Space Telescope, we've truly only observed a small portion of Pillars of Creation gas clouds roughly 6,500 lightyears from Earth.

A part of the issue was the very specific energy spectrums and wavelengths at which Hubble's near-infrared spectrum sensors operate. Hubble is only able to observe a fraction of the infrared spectrum from wavelengths ranging from 0.8 to 2.5 microns. With this the case, Hubble sensors were unable to visualize the plethora of stars shrowded within the Eagle Nebula's gas clouds.

With far more sophisticated infrared sensors operating in broad wavelengths from 0.6 to 5.3 microns, the James Webb Space Telescope can finally peer beyond the veil. With the bulk of the thick clouds of gas rendered transparent in the infrared spectrum, scientists can quantify the true number of stars in this section of the cosmos more than ever before. Safe to say, it wouldn't have been possible without JWST.


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