Astronomy Picture of the Day

Trifid Pillars & Jets

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Trifid Pillars & Jets

Dust pillars are like
interstellar mountains.

They survive because they are more dense than their
surroundings, but they are being slowly
eroded away by a hostile environment.

Visible in the
above picture is the end of a
huge gas and dust pillar in the

Trifid Nebula,
punctuated by a smaller pillar pointing up and an unusual
jet pointing to the left.

The pink dots are newly formed low-mass stars.

A star near the small pillar's end is slowly being stripped of its
accreting gas by radiation from a tremendously brighter star
situated off the
above picture to the upper right.

The jet extends nearly a
light-year and would
not be visible without external illumination.

As gas and dust evaporate from the pillars,
the hidden stellar source of this

jet will likely be uncovered,
possibly over the next 20,000 years.

APOD presents: Astronomy Pictures of the Year for 2007

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