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New Pillars of Creation and more: Video and images

New Pillars of Creation and more

On May 23, 2023, NASA released four new composite images from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope. The newly combined images include two galaxies, a nebula (the famous Pillars of Creation) and a star cluster. Chandra studies objects in X-ray and captures objects in the high-energy range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Webb studies object in infrared light or objects in the low-energy range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

In addition to Chandra and Webb, the newly combined images use data from a few other sources. Astronomers used visible light data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s New Technology Telescope. Plus, they included infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as X-ray data from ESA’s XMM-Newton scope. By the way, neither X-ray nor infrared light is visible to our unaided eyes.

Pillars of Creation: Four different images, 2 galaxies, 1 star cluster and 1 nebula. They all show very bright pink colors.
Here are the newly released Chandra-Webb composite images, including the famous Pillars of Creation. Read more about each image below. Image via NASA/ Chandra/ XMM/ JWST/ Spitzer/ Hubble/ Image Processing L. Frattare/ J. Major/ K. Arcand.

Chandra-Webb composite of a nebula and star cluster

The Pillars of Creation is a stunning area of the sky made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope. Also, it’s part of the Eagle Nebula, aka Messier 16. The Webb portion of the new image reveals the columns of gas and dust (in red, green and blue) surrounding some recently formed stars. Then the Chandra portion reveals the strong X-ray emissions (in red and blue) coming from the young, hot stars.

Next up is the star cluster NGC 346 in one of our neighboring galaxies, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). The SMC is located 200,000 light-years away. The plumes and arcs are gas and dust where stars and planets can form and are from Webb images. The purple cloud is the result of a massive star exploding as a supernova and is from Chandra images. The Chandra data also include powerful stellar winds blowing off hot and massive young stars. Note: X-ray data are purple and blue, and the infrared and optical data are red, green and blue.

And the galaxy images

And then there is the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672. The combined image used Chandra (and other X-ray data) to indicate remains of energetic objects like neutron stars and black holes sucking in material from stars close enough to be caught by their gravity. Then the optical and infrared portion of the image – including data from both the Hubble and Chandra – shows the gas and dust of the galaxy’s spiral arms. Note: X-ray data are purple, the optical and infrared data are red, green and blue.

Finally is the face-on spiral galaxy Messier 74. It’s also called the Phantom Galaxy due to a low-surface brightness making it difficult to spot in small telescopes. It’s one of the hardest objects to catch during a Messier Marathon. So the infrared portion from the Webb telescope reveals the gas and dust, while the X-ray data from Chandra bring out the high-energy stars. Then, the optical data from the Hubble show less energetic stars and dust lanes. Note: X-ray data are purple, optical data are orange, cyan and blue, and infrared data are green, yellow, red and magenta.

Bottom line: NASA combined images from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Webb Space Telescope – plus other telescopes – and shared this video of the newly released images.


May 25, 2023
Today's Image

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