Famous Space Pillars feel the Heat of Star’s Explosion

by Whitney Clavin

The three iconic space pillars photographed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 might have met their demise, according to new evidence from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

A new, striking image from Spitzer shows the intact dust towers next to a giant cloud of hot dust thought to have been scorched by the blast of a star that exploded, or went supernova. Astronomers speculate that the supernova’s shock wave could have already reached the dusty towers, causing them to topple about 6,000 years ago. However, because light from this region takes 7,000 years to reach Earth, we won’t be able to capture photos of the destruction for another 1,000 years or so.

Spitzer’s view of the region shows the entire Eagle nebula, a vast and stormy community of stars set amid clouds and steep pillars made of gas and dust, including the three well-known “Pillars of Creation.”…

(read more: CalTech)                     (images: NASA/JPL-CalTech)

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