“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, “Oh it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything.” and an optimist who says, “Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyways.” Either way, nothing happens.” -Yvon Chouinard
Are the beautiful and iconic Pillars of Creation, located deep within the Eagle Nebula, still around today? At a distant of 7,000 light years, the Pillars could have been destroyed at any point from about 5,000 B.C. to the present, and we’d have no way of knowing. When they were first imaged in 1995, many speculated that the nebula, containing new stars and many supernova candidates, may have already destroyed these dusty structures by now.
In 2007, a study by the Spitzer Space Telescope showed off some hot, glowing dust, perhaps indicating a supernova that took place some 8000-9000 years ago. But the most recent data from Hubble, in both the visible and infrared combined, not only teaches us that the supernova was an unlikely explanation for the dust, but allowed us to measure the true rate of evaporation of the Pillars themselves.