July 16, 2024

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A breathtaking 3D journey through the pillars of creation.

A breathtaking 3D journey through the pillars of creation.

This image is a mosaic of visible and infrared light views of the same frame from the Pillars of Creation visualization. The 3D model of the columns created for the visualization sequence is shown alternating in the Hubble Space Telescope version (visible light) and the Webb Space Telescope version (infrared). Credit: Greg Bacon (STScI), Ralph Crawford (STScI), Joseph DePascal (STScI), Leah Hostak (STScI), Christian Nieves (STScI), Joseph Olmstead (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), Frank Summers (STScI), NASA’s World of 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.

Pillars of Creation Star in New Imaging from NASA’s Hubble and Webb Telescopes

Made famous in 1995 by NASA Hubble Space TelescopeThe Pillars of Creation at the heart of the Eagle Nebula have captured the world’s imagination with their captivating, ethereal 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 columns, viewers can experience their 3D structure and see how different they look in Hubble’s visible light show versus Webb’s infrared light show,” explained lead visualization scientist Frank Summers of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. Who led the film development team for the NASA program. World of learning“The contrast helps them understand why more than one space telescope is needed to observe different sides of the same object.”

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The four pillars of creation, composed mainly of cold molecular hydrogen and dust, are being eroded by fierce winds and harsh ultraviolet radiation from nearby hot young stars. Finger-like structures larger than the solar system protrude from the tops of the pillars. Embedded within these fingers may be embryonic stars. The longest pillar stretches across three light-years, three-quarters of the distance between our Sun and the next closest star.

Observation data and scientific accuracy

The film takes visitors into the three-dimensional structures of the columns. Rather than an artistic interpretation, the video is based on observational data from a scientific paper led by Anna MacLeod, an associate professor at Durham University in the United Kingdom. MacLeod also served as a scientific advisor on the film project.

“The Pillars of Creation have always been on our minds for 3D creation. The Webb data combined with the Hubble data allowed us to see the pillars in much more complete detail,” said STScI production lead Greg Bacon. “Understanding the science and how to better represent it allowed our small, talented team to take on the challenge of visualizing this remarkable 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’s 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 refine 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

This video was produced by NASA’s Space Science Institute in collaboration with partners from the California Institute of Technology/Oceanic Research Institute, developed by NASA’s AstroViz project, and is part of a longer, narrated video (the second video in this article) that brings together Between direct contact with science and scientists on NASA astrophysics missions while attending to the needs of youth 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. Credit: Leah Hostack (STScI), Ralph Crawford (STScI), NASA Learning Scientist

Expanding public participation in astronomy

The additional product of this concept 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 that 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: continuous education and exploration

Further insights and connections between nebula science and learners can be explored through other products produced by NASA’s Learning World such as: Show spacea video exhibit currently on display in nearly 200 museums and planetariums across the United States. Visitors can go beyond the video to explore images produced by space telescopes using interactive tools now available to museums and planetariums.

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NASA’s Learning World materials are based on work supported by NASA under Award Number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology/IPAC, Pasadena, California, and the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, La Cañada Flintridge, California.

The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, 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, he has provided invaluable data and stunning images that have led to major discoveries in various areas of astrophysics, including the expansion rate of the universe, the existence of dark matter, and the properties of exoplanets. Unlike ground-based telescopes, the Hubble Telescope can capture high-resolution images in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared, providing a comprehensive view of celestial objects and phenomena that changed scientific knowledge and public interest in space exploration.

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

NASA’s Learning World program is an integrated astronomy learning and education program that provides resources and expertise to help the public understand the universe while connecting them to the science and technology of NASA’s astrophysics missions. Through collaboration between NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, the Space Telescope Science Institute, Caltech, JPL, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the 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 public understanding of the universe.