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The Spire Tower in the Eagle Nebula

This is a view of the 'spire' within M16, the Eagle Nebula. It is a a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from a stellar nursery - a giant incubator for newborn stars. Viewing in 3D shows how the column is silhouetted against the background glow of more distant gas. The column is under attack by blasts of ultraviolet light from massive young stars off the top of the image. It is difficult to comprehend the size of the tower - in fact the small fingers of gas near the centre are in fact similar in size to our solar system! You may need to sit back a little to view this image in stereo.

   
 
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All images © Brian Smallwood