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(BBC)-Hubble's image, dubbed the "pillars of creation", has featured in countless papers, magazines and posters
Now, new data shows the pillars being scorched by an exploding star - and a shockwave has probably torn them apart.
But because of the time taken for light to reach Earth, we will not see their final destruction for 1,000 years.
"In the Hubble pictures, the pillars seem to be compact and solid; but in fact they are not," said Nicolas Flagey, from France's Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale.
"Only the top of the pillars and some parts within are dense enough to resist the shock. But the rest is going to be blown away by the shockwave," he told BBC News.