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The "Pillars of Creation" is a famous astronomical feature located in the Eagle Nebula (M16), a star-forming region in the constellation Serpens. This stunning structure was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 and has since become one of the most iconic images in astronomy.
The Pillars of Creation are immense columns of gas and dust, several light-years tall, where new stars are actively forming. The pillars are sculpted by intense radiation and stellar winds from nearby massive stars, which erode the surrounding material while simultaneously triggering the collapse of denser regions, leading to the birth of new stars.
The striking appearance of the Pillars of Creation is due to the presence of dust grains within the nebula, which scatter and block the light of background stars, creating dark, shadowed regions against the backdrop of glowing gas. The tallest pillar in the image is approximately 4 light-years in length.
While the Pillars of Creation appear serene and timeless in the Hubble image, they are actually in a state of dynamic evolution, with new stars being born and the pillars slowly being eroded by the intense radiation and stellar winds from nearby massive stars. It's believed that some of the stars within the pillars have already formed, while others are still in the process of coalescing from the surrounding gas and dust.
The Pillars of Creation serve as a vivid illustration of the processes involved in star formation and the interplay between young stars and their natal environment. They also highlight the beauty and complexity of the cosmos, captivating the imagination of astronomers and the public alike.