July 19, 2024

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A stunning 3D journey through the Pillars of Creation.

A stunning 3D journey through the Pillars of Creation.

This image is a mosaic of visible-light and infrared views of the same frame from the Pillars of Creation visualization. The 3D model of the pillars created for the visualization sequence is shown alternately in the Hubble Space Telescope (visible-light) and Webb Space Telescope (infrared) versions. Credits: Greg Bacon (STScI), Ralph Crawford (STScI), Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Leah Hostak (STScI), Christian Nieves (STScI), Joseph Olmstead (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), Frank Summers (STScI), NASA World Learning

NASAThe new 3D visualization of the Pillars of Creation combines data from the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes to provide an immersive experience of these famous star-forming clouds.

A stunning new visualization allows viewers to explore fundamental questions in science, experience how science is done, and discover the universe for themselves.

A team of NASA learning scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, has produced a stunning new 3D visualization of the towering “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle Nebula by combining data from NASA’s Hubble and James Webb space telescopes. This is the most comprehensive, detailed, multi-wavelength film to date of these famous star-generating clouds.

The Pillars of Creation star in a new visualization from NASA’s Hubble and Webb telescopes

It gained great fame in 1995 through NASA. Hubble Space TelescopeThe Pillars of Creation at the heart of the Eagle Nebula have captured the imaginations of the world with their stunning and magnificent beauty.

Now, NASA has released a new 3D visualization of these towering celestial structures using data from NASA’s Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes. It’s the most comprehensive and detailed multi-wavelength movie yet of these star-forming clouds.

Insights from multiple wavelengths

“By flying through and between the pillars, viewers experience their 3D structure and see how they look different in Hubble’s visible-light view versus Webb’s infrared view,” explained principal visualization scientist Frank Summers of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, who led NASA’s film development team. The world of learning. “The contrast helps them understand why there is more than one space telescope to observe different aspects of the same object.”

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The four pillars of creation, composed primarily of cold molecular hydrogen and dust, are being eroded by intense winds and strong ultraviolet radiation from hot young stars nearby. Finger-like structures larger than the solar system emerge from the tops of the columns. There could be embryonic stars buried inside these fingers. The longest column extends across three light-years, that is, three-quarters of the distance between our sun and the nearest star to us.

Observational data and scientific accuracy

The film takes visitors into the 3D structures of the columns. Rather than a technical explanation, the video is based on observational data from a scientific paper led by Anna McLeod, an associate professor at Durham University in the UK. McLeod also served as a scientific consultant on the film project.

“The Pillars of Creation have always been on our minds to create in 3D,” said Greg Bacon, head of production at the Space Science Institute. “The Webb data combined with Hubble data allowed us to see the pillars in even more complete detail. Understanding the science and how to best represent it allowed our small, talented team to take on the challenge of visualizing this iconic structure.”

Observations and understanding of multiple wavelengths

This new technology helps viewers experience how two of the world’s most powerful space telescopes work together to provide a more complex and comprehensive picture of the pillars. Hubble sees objects glowing in visible light, at thousands of degrees. Webb’s infrared vision, which is sensitive to cooler objects with temperatures of only hundreds of degrees, penetrates the obscuring dust to see stars embedded in the pillars.

“When we combine observations from NASA space telescopes across different wavelengths of light, we expand our understanding of the universe,” said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The Pillars of Creation region continues to provide us with new insights that advance our understanding of how stars form. Now, with this new visualization, everyone can experience this rich and captivating landscape in a new way.”

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Bringing space exploration into public education

Produced by NASA’s Space Science Institute in collaboration with partners at Caltech/National Oceanographic Research Institute, and developed by NASA’s AstroViz Learning World project, this video is part of a longer, narrated video (the second video in this article) that combines direct access to science and scientists on NASA’s astrophysics missions with an audience that caters to the needs of young audiences, families, and lifelong learners. It allows viewers to explore fundamental questions in science, experience how science is done, and discover the universe for themselves.

New developments and educational tools

Several stages of star formation are highlighted in the visualization. As viewers approach the central column, they see a small, compact protostar at its tip, glowing bright red in infrared light. Near the top of the left column is a diagonal jet of material ejected from a newborn star. Although the jet is evidence of the star’s birth, viewers cannot see the star itself. Finally, at the end of one of the left column’s protruding “fingers” is a brand-new, glowing star.

3D model of the pillars of creation

This image shows a 3D printed model of the famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula. The 3D computer-sculpted model used to visualize the Pillars of Creation has been converted to STL file format and placed atop a circular base for use with 3D printers. Credits: Leah Hostack (Space Science Institute), Ralph Crawford (Space Science Institute), NASA Learning Scientist

Expand public engagement with astronomy

The additional product of this visualization is a new product 3D printable model of the pillars of creationThe basic model of the four columns used in the visualization has been adapted to the STL file format, so viewers can download the model file and print it on 3D printers. Examining the structure of the columns in this tactile and interactive way adds new perspectives and insights to the overall experience.

Conclusion: Continuing Education and Exploration

The visualizations and connections between nebular science and learners can be further explored through other products produced by NASA’s Learning World such as Display area, a video exhibition currently on display in nearly 200 museums and planetariums across the United States. Visitors can go beyond video to explore images produced by space telescopes using interactive tools now available to museums and planetariums.

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NASA Learning World materials are based on work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, working in partnership with the California Institute of Technology/IPAC, Pasadena, California; the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, La Canada Flintridge, California.

Launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most important instruments in the history of astronomy. Orbiting Earth from an altitude of about 547 kilometers, Hubble has revolutionized our understanding of the universe with its clear, deep view of the cosmos, unobstructed by Earth’s atmosphere. Over the decades, it has provided invaluable data and stunning images that have led to major discoveries in various fields of astrophysics, including the rate of expansion of the universe, the existence of dark matter, and the properties of exoplanets. Unlike ground-based telescopes, Hubble can take high-resolution images in ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light, providing a comprehensive view of celestial objects and phenomena that have transformed scientific knowledge and public interest in space exploration.

the James Webb Space Telescope Launched on December 25, 2021, JWST represents the next big leap in space observatories. Located about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, Webb is designed to observe the universe primarily in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to peer further back in time than ever before, just beyond the planet. the great explosionThis capability enables astronomers to study the formation of galaxies, stars, and early planetary systems. Webb’s advanced instrument suite and larger primary mirror, compared to its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, provide unprecedented resolution and sensitivity, making it ideal for exploring the atmospheres of exoplanets and detecting potential signs of life. The telescope’s unique location at the second Lagrange point (L2) shields it from the light and heat of the Sun and Earth, ensuring it can observe the universe with minimal interference.

NASA’s World of Learning program is an integrated astronomy learning and teaching program that provides resources and expertise to help audiences understand the universe while connecting them to the science and technology of NASA’s astrophysics missions. Through a collaboration between NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the California Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, this program offers a wide range of materials including visualizations, interactive simulations, and educational activities. These resources are designed to engage learners of all ages in the process of scientific discovery, inspire the next generation of astronomers and advance the general understanding of the universe.