A new image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope shows the “Pillars of Creation” in remarkable detail.
The three-dimensional pillars look like majestic rock formations rising out of a desert landscape.
But they are actually made up of cool interstellar gas and dust that sometimes appear semi-transparent in near-infrared light.
The area in space also shows new stars forming within these dense clouds of gas and dust.
“Webb’s new view of the Pillars of Creation, which were first made famous when imaged by Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, will help researchers revamp their models of star formation by identifying far more precise counts of newly formed stars, along with the quantities of gas and dust in the region,” Nasa said.
“Over time, they will begin to build a clearer understanding of how stars form and burst out of these dusty clouds over millions of years.”
The image was captured by Webb’s near-infrared camera, a science instrument that captures light invisible to the human eye.
Located in the constellation Serpens, about 7,000 light-years from Earth, the Pillars of Creation are filled with young stars that are forming.
“What about those wavy lines that look like lava at the edges of some pillars? These are ejections from stars that are still forming within the gas and dust,” Nasa said.
“Young stars periodically shoot out supersonic jets that collide with clouds of material, like these thick pillars.
“This sometimes also results in bow shocks, which can form wavy patterns like a boat does as it moves through water.”
The Webb telescope was launched into space on Christmas Day last year and began its science operations earlier this year.
Since then, it has been beaming back stunning images that are helping scientists better understand the mysteries of the universe.
The first image from the telescope was revealed by US President Joe Biden on July 11. It showed the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it was 4.6 billion years ago.
On July 20, it detected the oldest known galaxy in the universe, called Glass-z13, which was formed about 300 million years after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.
This breaks the record set by its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which spotted GN-z11, a galaxy that was formed 400 million years after the birth of the universe.