Unwrapping the Pillars
Ssc2007 01d

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/N. Flagey (IAS/SSC) & A. Noriega-Crespo (SSC/Caltech)

Observation • January 9th, 2007 • ssc2007-01d


This image composite highlights the pillars of the Eagle nebula, as seen in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (bottom) and visible light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (top insets).

The top right inset focuses on the three famous pillars, dubbed the "Pillars of Creation," which were photographed by Hubble in 1995. Hubble's optical view shows the dusty towers in exquisite detail, while Spitzer's infrared eyes penetrate through the thick dust, revealing ghostly transparent structures. The same effect can be seen for the pillar outlined in the top left box.

In both cases, Spitzer's view exposes newborn stars that were hidden inside the cocoon-like pillars, invisible to Hubble. These stars were first uncovered by the European Space Agency's Infrared Satellite Observatory. In the Spitzer image, two embedded stars are visible at the tip and the base of the left pillar, while one star can be seen at the tip of the tallest pillar on the right.

About the Object

Eagle NebulaMessier 16M16NGC 6611Pillars of Creation
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Protostar
6,500 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared Spitzer IRAC
Infrared Spitzer MIPS
Optical Hubble WFPC2


Position (J2000)
RA =5h 31m 22.7s
Dec = 12° 15' 30.1"
Field of View
0.0 x 0.0 arcminutes
North is up