NEWS & KNOWLEDGE The Eagle Nebula, also called M16, is a classic star forming region, a place roughly 7,000 light-years from Earth where gas and dust are thought to feed the birth of new stars. Several hot young stars born in the process now live just outside the Pillars, physically sculpting the colorful structures with intense ultraviolet light
Few pictures of the heavens have intrigued earthlings as much as a 1995 photograph of the Eagle Nebula, with its soaring star factories dubbed the Pillars of Creation. Here was star birth in action, all captured in vivid color by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The interresting question all Astronomers asking ist, does the Eagle really have eggs in its nest that will become stars before the whole nursery is blown away forever? Will the Pillars of Creation live up to their name?

The Eagle Nebula created its first stars about 3 million years ago -- very recent by astronomical standards. Ever since, radiation from the hottest of those stars, a cluster of which are near the Pillars, has been breaking apart the dust and molecules that formed their cocoon. It's a little like the Sun evaporating water on a wet street, Thompson explained.
Cracking the EGGs:

A research team recently examined stars inside the Pillars at infrared wavelengths using a ground-based telescope. Mark McCaughrean and Morten Andersen, both of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, Germany, looked into M16 with the 27-foot (8.2-meter) Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile.

"The important question is whether the famous Pillars of Creation will manage to live up to their name, and actually form any stars before being obliterated, or are they just tattered remnants of the molecular clouds that formed the big cluster, blowing prettily in the wind before being ionized off into the sunset?"

Eggs -- cocoons (literally) in which young stars are incubating. Dozens of them cling to the edges of the Pillars, protruding like warts. Each is about to unveil its contents as it breaks away from the main structure.

But what will be inside? Proof has been lacking that the EGGs have star-stuff in them; the visible-light Hubble images could not see inside the globules. Astronomers want to know, because M16 is thought to be representative of many star-forming regions and its dynamics could bear on the prevalence of planets in our galaxy.

The new infrared pictures reveal that out of 73 EGGs, at least 11 appear to have something inside. Equally important, McCaughrean says, there is evidence for several other newborn stars unassociated with the EGGs, still obscured within very dense dust shells.

Some of the embryos are rather wimpy, however, and will not do well. They'll be born, but then they will linger as giant yet dim gaseous objects, much bigger than planets but just shy of stardom. Brown dwarfs, they'll be called.

"If there are stars in those EGGs, then they're going to have a very rough ride as their cocoons get blasted away," McCaughrean said. "They'll have less material to gather up, making them smaller in mass than expected, and if they have circumstellar disks around them, they might find it hard to form planets."

I have posted some Pictures about Pillars of Creation. I hope you guys enjoy it



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  1. nopicAnnie writes on 08/09/2004 14:03
    Thanks for the interesting news Brad and for the pictures. They are awesome! Annie




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