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NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScl/AURA)

Hubble Favorites

A National Air and Space Museum astronomer picks some of his favorite images from the storied telescope.

"Pillar" in the Eagle Nebula (1995)

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(NASA, ESA, STScl, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University))

This is a colorized version of one of the pillars in the Eagle Nebula. The image, write DeVorkin and Smith, “shows fingers of gas and dust created in the shadow of dense protostar systems. These systems block radiation from intensely hot, massive stars clustered in the nebula’s cavity. The tiny tips of these fingers are comparable in size to our solar system.”

“This is a huge chasm in space,” says DeVorkin, “one that is vastly larger than our imaginations can allow us to deal with. The tiniest tips of these things are bigger than the solar system. The human mind can conceive of these things, but can’t—I don’t think—really live with it in any way. This [nebula] is not visible, even though it’s in the visible wavelengths. The contrasts and the range have been hugely expanded. [This colorized photograph is] a tribute to the artistic minds of these astronomers who create these images.”

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