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Space photo of the week: James Webb telescope gives the 'Pillars of Creation' a stunning 3D makeover

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What it is: A 3D visualization of the "Pillars of Creation," an iconic image of interstellar gas and dust taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. 

Where it is: The Eagle Nebula (M16), about 6,000 light-years away, in the constellation Serpens

When it was shared: June 26, 2024

Why it's so special: The "Pillars of Creation" might just be the most famous deep-sky image ever taken. Featuring towering tendrils of interstellar gas and dust in a star-forming region called the Eagle Nebula, it was one of the Hubble Space Telescope's first images and has become a staple of space merchandise and even appeared on a postage stamp. 

Now, the jaw-dropping image has had a multiwavelength 3D makeover thanks to new data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

This new mosaic, which is also showcased in a new NASA video, highlights the differences between the two telescopes. JWST's newer data isn't necessarily better; it merely helps astronomers study different aspects of the same object. Space telescopes typically specialize in certain wavelengths of light. While Hubble captures primarily visible light, JWST is more sensitive to infrared light.

"When we combine observations from NASA's space telescopes across different wavelengths of light, we broaden our understanding of the universe," Mark Clampin, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. "The Pillars of Creation region continues to offer us new insights that hone our understanding of how stars form. Now, with this new visualization, everyone can experience this rich, captivating landscape in a new way."

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