‘Pillars Of Creation’ Have Magnetic Fields, Showing Scientists How Stars Form

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Scientists found out how stars form by looking closely into the famous Pillars of Creation. The iconic images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in April 1995 is in the top 10 best photos taken by the telescope.

The pillars are depicted as a structure made from dust and gas, at 7,000 light years away from our planet. NASA described the pillars as if they’re “bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young stars. The winds from these stars are slowly eroding the towers of gas and dust.”

The latest report on these pillars has been made by astronomers, who saw something different for the first time. They discovered that inside the Pillars of Creation there are subtle magnetic fields.

Solving the “Mystery of the Formation of Stars”

Using a tool called polarimeter on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (Hawaii), they saw that the light which the Pillars emit is polarized – indicating the direction of magnetic field. Looking at the direction of the magnetic field, researchers saw that there are some that run along the Pillars, at different angles to the regions that would surround these Pillars.

Derek Ward-Thompson (University of Central Lancashire) stated that this discovery would help us “solve the mystery of the formation of stars.”

The same discovery has answered to many questions. It seems that these magnetic fields are the ones that allowed the Pillars to evolve this way and that they’re held in this form by the magnetic support. These findings point towards how stars were formed: clumps of gas started to slowly collapse because of the magnetic field.

“Magnetic field may be slowing the pillars’ evolution into cometary globules. The evolution and lifetime of the Pillars may be strongly influenced by the strength of the coupling of their magnetic field to that of their parent photoionized cloud — i.e. that the Pillars’ longevity results from magnetic support.” the authors of the study wrote in their paper which was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.


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