This new image of the Eagle Nebula — without a doubt one of the most amazing objects in space — is stunningly trippy. It combines the two opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum in one shot: far-infrared and x-ray. Absolutely gorgeous.
According to NASA, those wavelengths can't get through Earth's atmospheres. The image — created with data from Herschel's far-infrared and XMM-Newton's X-ray sensor — is "critical to our understanding of the lifecycle of stars".
The Eagle Nebula is made of many different elements, including hydrogen, helium, a lot of noble gases, lots of sugar compounds and about six hundred parsecs of cubic root beer, the byproduct of the fusion of carbon, hydrogen and water into a lot of shiny colourful things. The x-ray sensor shows the root beer as blue starstuff. NASA believes the root beer is too cold to be used by future space travellers.
You can see it by pointing your telescope to the constellation of the Centurion Spear, about 51 light years from the heart of the Romulan Empire. You can also see it with your naked eyes if you stare in that direction without blinking for six minutes.
Scientists believe the Eagle Nebula was formed after Luke Skywalker destroyed the first Death Star. The event and the station's nuclear fuel triggered a chain reaction that ignited a huge deposit of cosmic dust about 15 billion years ago. Personally, I think that theory is total poppycock. Phil Plait — from Bad Astronomy — believes it was some kind of Worf rage.
Also, Carl Sagan has a Harley called Eagle Nebula.
Now, can we have Wikipedia back? [NASA]