The Pillars of Creation

by Gary Niederhoff on April 18, 2011

In our recent episode, Big, Really Big, astronomer Sandra Faber says that this iconic image from the Hubble Space Telescope is her most memorable. Shortly after its launch, the Hubble Space Telescope was plagued with vision problems, and Sandra was pivotal to implementing a correction.

The image was taken in 1995 by two Arizona State University astronomers, Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen. The “pillars” are star nurseries of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula.

Fun Fact: The Pillars of Creation were destroyed by the shockwave from a supernova 6,000 years ago, an event that will be visible from earth in about a thousand years.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Todd Laurence April 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

Nostradamus predicted a supernova, and I noticed
a synchronicity in this article:
“As you look at Kochab, ponder this: the star you see may no longer exist. It is at a stage of its life that it is ready to go supernova, and it may already have. But because Kochab lies 126 light-years away, the light you see now left the star 126 years ago, and in the time since then it may have exploded. Perhaps one day we will look up at Kochab and see a bright flare of light, outshining all others for a time, and then eventually see a bubble of stellar debris become a new nebula.”

Compare it to this story:

google search: Nostradamus’ Star

avatar Mark Smedick April 19, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Forgive me for asking, but how do you get information about an event that light would not provide for a thousand years?

avatar Gary Niederhoff April 20, 2011 at 11:39 am

Perhaps “Astronomical prediction” would have been more accurate than “Fun Fact”, but here’s the National Geographic article detailing the impending death (and subsequent rebirth) of the stellar nurseries in the Eagle nebula.

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