This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula (M16), 6,500 light-years away.
The towering pillars of gas and dust are about 5 light-years tall. The pillars are bathed in the blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust.
The dark, finger-like feature at bottom right may be a smaller version of the giant pillars.
The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green.
Astronomers assembled this view by combining several Hubble exposures taken in September 2014 with the Wide Field Camera 3.
Hubble originally imaged the Pillars of Creation in 1995 with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. This newer image presents a wider and sharper view than the original.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)