Hubble Heritage Archive: The Eagle Nebula, M16, NGC 6611

The text and images in this article were originally published on January 5, 2015, and reflect information about NGC 6611 available at that time.

Hubble Goes High Def to Revisit the Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous Pillars of Creation, revealing a sharper and wider view of the structures in this visible-light image. 

Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble the wider view. The towering pillars are about 5 light-years tall. The dark, finger-like feature at bottom right may be a smaller version of the giant pillars. The new image was taken with Hubble’s versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3. 

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 pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth. 

The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green.

Featured Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Fast Facts about The Eagle Nebula

About this Object

Object Name:M16, Eagle Nebula, NGC 6611
Object Description:Emission Nebula
Position (J2000):R.A. 18h 18m 51.06s 
Dec. –13° 49′ 51.11″
Constellation:Serpens
Distance:6,500 light-years (2,000 parsecs)

About the Data

Data Description:Data of M16 were obtained from the HST proposal 13926, P.I. Z. Levay, J. Mack, C. Christian, L. Frattare, M. Livio, S. Meyett, M. Mutchler, and J. Sokol (STScI/AURA), and K. Noll (NASA/GSFC).
Exposure Dates:September 2014
Instruments and Filters:WFC3/UVIS: F502N ([O III]), F657N (Halpha + [N II]), and F673N ([S II])
WFC3/IR: F110W (YJ) and F160W (H)
Exposure Times:WFC3/UVIS: 30.5
WFC3/IR: 22.4 hours

About this Image

Credit:NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) 
Release Date:January 5, 2015
Color:This image is a composite of separate exposures acquired by the WFC3 instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope. Several filters were used to sample and narrow wavelength ranges. The color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are:

F502N ([O III]) – blue
F657N (Hα + [N II]) – green
F673N ([S II]) – red

Additional Images of The Eagle Nebula

Eagle Nebula in Visible and Infrared Light

Movement of Jets Between 2014 and 1995 Hubble M16 Images

Can you see the expanding jets? If not, take a look below at our marked up animation below.

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