James Webb Space Telescope's 'Haunting' Pillars of Creation image released

James Webb Space Telescope
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s mid-infrared view of the Pillars of Creation strikes a chilling tone. Thousands of stars that exist in this region seem to disappear, since stars typically do not emit much mid-infrared light, and seemingly endless layers of gas and dust become the centerpiece. The detection of dust by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is extremely important – dust is a major ingredient for star formation (Image credit: SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI))

The Pillars of Creation is the name given to the view of trunks of interstellar gas found within the vast Eagle Nebula, which are 6,500 light-years away from Earth. The scene was first photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 and revisited in 2014, but NASA has just released a creepy, mid-infrared view of the Pillars from the James Webb Space Telescope.

"Trace the topmost pillar, landing on the bright red star jutting out of its lower edge like a broomstick," NASA says. "This star and its dusty shroud are larger than the size of our entire solar system."

We'd recommend that you download the full-resolution, uncompressed version of this spooky Pillars of Creation image so that you can delve into it in full detail.

Many people are calling this a chilling image, including NASA itself. One of the reasons that this image is haunting has to do with wavelengths of light, and what the James Webb Space Telescope can capture. It views scenes in mid-infrared light, and while this can show where dust is, it means the stars within the scene aren't at bright enough wavelengths to show up. Instead, all we do see are gigantic, looming pillars of gas and dust, only hinting at what's actually inside them.

If you want to keep up with the latest image releases, head to the James Webb Space Telescope gallery, where you can see all of Webb's first images and learn more about what they depict. NASA will be launching new images at least every other week.

We'll report on more James Webb Space Telescope images as they get released, from the angle of imaging than the subjects themselves. 

If you're feeling inspired, why not try deep-space photography yourself, and check out the best telescopes for watching the night sky at home?

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.