Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Placing the Hubble images side-by-side emphasizes how different the pillars appear in visible and in near-infrared light. The visible-light image (left) provides a detailed view of the stars, gas, and dust within the nebula. In contrast, the near-infrared image (right) reveals stars behind the nebula as well as stars inside the pillars, since infrared light can penetrate gas and dust. By using both types of light, astronomers can get a more complete picture of where and how stars are forming in the nebula.