In sharp contrast to the "Pillars of Creation" present in the star-forming regions of the Eagle nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope two decades ago, new observations are showing pillar-like structures in the Carina Nebula getting destroyed by stars.

The new images show long, finger-like pillars and spires of cosmic gas and dust jutting into space.

They show that giant columns of cold gas are dissipated by ultraviolet light radiations beamed by newly born stars and turning the home cloud into "Pillars of Destruction."

These images were captured from Carina nebula — a stellar nursery standing at a distance of 7,500 light-years away from Earth. These are a far cry from the Eagle nebula's pillars of creation and were duly tracked by the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT).

The destruction or dispersal of vast clouds of dust and gas by the powerful radiation of neighboring stars were studied by a team headed by Anna McLeod, a Ph.D. student. They used the spectrograph MUSE mounted on ESO's Very Large Telescope.

MUSE or Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument can turn Earth-based observations into 3D images.

Link Between Stellar Radiation And Mass Loss

The team was able to identify ten pillars and came to the conclusion that there exists a clear link between the radiation emitted from neighboring stars and changes on the pillars.

The process, known by the name photo evaporation, takes place when the energetic radiation on the pillars ionizes the gas and makes it more mobile and drifting.

It has been observed that when a massive star takes birth from a cloud, what eventually follows is the new star taking on the home nebula itself to destroy it.

Ideally, hydrogen gas cloud and dust make a great place for new star births. As bigger stars emerge, the bombardment on the home nebula with damaging radiation intensifies and hastens the destruction.

The process exerts a considerable effect on massive stars and surroundings with emissions ionizing and stripping atoms of their electrons.

However, there is not much observational evidence to substantiate the interplay between stars and surroundings.

The contrast between the pillars and nebulae was not lost on the ESO team. They noted that the former was dense, while clouds comprising dust and gas in nebulae were diffused. This leads to the assumption that the radiation and stellar winds from bigger stars could accentuate denser spots in the pillars which may turn into stars later.

The captured images of celestial structures also affirm that MUSE is the best instrument to probe star-forming phenomena.

Despite raising the prospect of 'Pillars of Destruction' scientists are still unsure whether these pillars will be destroyed ultimately by the new star births. That is why ESO is on record that studies will continue until definitive conclusions are drawn.

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