Courtesy of the BBC, here’s a wonderful image of the Pillars of Creation in the Serpens constellation, taken by the Webb space telescope. Click either image for a much larger view.
And here’s a comparison between the Hubble space telescope’s view of the Pillars (on the left) and the Webb’s greatly improved and much sharper view (on the right).
From the report:
Webb, with its infrared detectors, is able to see past much of the light-scattering effects of the pillars’ dust to examine the activity of the new-born suns.
“I’ve been studying the Eagle Nebula since the mid-1990s, trying to see ‘inside’ the light-years long pillars that Hubble showed, searching for young stars inside them. I always knew that when James Webb took pictures of it, they would be stunning. And so they are,” Prof Mark McCaughrean, the Senior Advisor for Science at the European Space Agency, told BBC News.
The M16’s pillars are being illuminated and sculpted by the intense ultraviolet light from massive nearby stars. That radiation is also dismantling the towers.
Indeed, if you could magically transport yourself to this location today, the pillars are very probably no longer there.
We only see them because we’re looking at them in the past. The light that Webb detects has taken 6,500 years to reach its mirrors.
There’s more at the link.
Seeing wonderful images like that reminds me of how very, very small and insignificant humankind is, in comparison to the vastness of the universe.