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A representation of the James Webb Telescope. (illustrative photo)
SPACE – This is the image that many were waiting for, as majestic as it was hoped for. The James Webb Telescope revealed this Wednesday, October 19 its first shot of the iconic “Pillars of Creation”, huge structures of gas and dust teeming with forming stars (see the picture below).
The twinkling of thousands of stars illuminates the whole image, on which these gigantic brown and orange columns stand in the vastness of the cosmos.
Areas of intense red, at the end of several of the pillars, evoke lava. This is’“star ejections still developing”, only a few hundred thousand years old, NASA said in a statement. These “Young stars periodically shoot out supersonic jets that collide with clouds of material, like these thick pillars. »
The “Pillars of Creation” are located 6,500 light years from Earth, in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Specifically, they are found in the Eagle Nebula.
They were made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope, which took a first snapshot of them in 1995, revisited in 2014.
But thanks to its infrared capabilities, the James Webb Telescope, launched into space less than a year ago, can pierce the opacity of the pillars, revealing many new forming stars – brilliant red balls.
This image covers an area of about eight light years
“By popular demand, we had to do the Pillars of Creation” with James Webb, Klaus Pontoppidan, science program manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the telescope from Baltimore, tweeted Wednesday. “There are just so many stars! »
By popular demand, we had to do the Pillars of Creation with #JWST. The nebula, M16, is located right in the plane… https://t.co/dzJzuphUrZ
— Klaus Pontoppidan (@pontoppi)
“The Universe is magnificent! »also exclaimed astrophysicist at NASA Amber Straughn.
This image, which covers an area of about eight light-years, was taken by the NIRCam instrument, which operates in the near infrared – a wavelength invisible to the human eye. The colors of the image have thus been “translated” in visible light.
According to NASA, this new image “will help researchers revise their models of star formation, identifying a much more accurate count of newly formed stars, as well as the amount of gas and dust in this region. »
James Webb, whose first color images were unveiled in July, is conducting his observations 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
One of the main purposes of this $10 billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars. Another main line of research is the study of exoplanets, ie planets outside the solar system.
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