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New HST Multi-Wavelength Imaging of the Eagle Nebula M16

January 5, 2014

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One of the most iconic images from the Hubble Space Telescope has been the 1995 WFPC2 image of the Eagle Nebula (M16, sometimes known as the "Pillars of Creation"). Nineteen years after those original observations, new images have been obtained with HST's current instrumentation: a small mosaic in visible-light, narrow-band filters with WFC3/UVIS (Fig. 1, top) and a second infrared mosaic in broad-band filters with WFC3/IR (Fig. 1, bottom). The wider field of view, higher resolution, and broader wavelength coverage of the new images highlight the improved capabilities of HST over its long-lasting operation, made possible by the upgraded instrumentation installed during Space Shuttle servicing missions. These color composite images will be presented at the 225th AAS meeting in January 2015 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of HST's launch.

The WFC3 observations were obtained in September 2014 and include 4 tiles in a 2x2 mosaic pattern with the IR channel (Fig. 2, red squares) and 6 tiles in a 3x2 mosaic pattern with the UVIS channel (Fig. 2, blue squares). For more details on the observing strategy, see HST proposal 13926, PI: Levay. Parallel observations with the ACS WFC (Fig. 2, green outline) have also been obtained to create an H-alpha mosaic adjacent to the WFC3 fields, and these will be made available at a later date.

Fig 1: UVIS (top) and IR (bottom) multi-color images of M16.
Fig 2: Footprints of the Heritage program's observations. The green footprint to the north represents the parallel observations with ACS-WFC that will be released at a later date. The blue and red footprints to the south are the WFC3-UVIS and WFC3-IR observations, respectively.
Since these new mosaics represent a significant investment of expert processing beyond the standard archival products, these AstroDrizzle-combined FITS images have now been released as High-Level Science Products via the B. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). We provide a list of downloadable FITS files which include both the drizzled science (sci) and weight (wht) images, where the latter provide an effective exposure time map for each filter.

The data products follow the naming convention:



iiii - channel used ("ir" or "uvis")
fffff - filter (e.g., "f110w" or "f502n")
ttt - the file type: "drz" (science-grade, drizzled images), or "wht" (weights)