Feeds

Supernova topples Pillars of Creation

A while before we'll see it

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.