Feeds

Supernova topples Pillars of Creation

A while before we'll see it

Security for virtualized datacentres

The famous "Pillars of Creation", the subject of the best known of Hubble's images, have already been blown apart by a supernova. We won't see their destruction here on Earth for another thousand years, but the astronomers making the claim estimate that the massive, star-forming pillars that make up the Eagle Nebula were obliterated almost 6000 years ago.

Pillars of Creation facing destruction?

In the image, captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the green areas are the relatively cool dust that makes up most of the nebula. However, the red portion shows an area of much hotter gas.

Astronomers suggest that the gas has been heated by a nearby supernova explosion, some 8,000 or 9,000 years ago, and around two thousand light years from the famous Pillars. The explosion might have been seen from Earth between one and two thousand years ago.

From our perspective the edge of the shockwave has still to reach the pillars, but NASA says that when it hit, the wave would have crumbled the towers, exposing the newly born stars within them. The catastrophe most likely triggered the birth of new stars, as well.

The area of heated dust was identified first in images from the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory. NASA says Spitzer's longer wavelength observatory has been able to match the heating to a supernova event.

Naturally not all stargazers concur: New Scientist.com reports that at the 209th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, some delegates proposed other reasons for the heating.

Stephen Reynolds of North Carolina State University told the news site he thought it unlikely that a supernova event in the region would have gone unnoticed until now. He argues that super-heated stellar winds would be sufficient to explain the observations. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.