NASA Finds the 'Hand of God'
Stunning image shows material from exploded star
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 10, 2014 7:55 AM CST
This undated x-ray image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, shows a cloud of material resembling a hand.   (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill)

(Newser) – A newly released NASA photo depicts what appears to be an enormous hand floating in space. The "Hand of God," as it's being called, actually consists of the remains of an exploded star, explains. It had been imaged in 2009 using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which captured low-energy X-ray light that appears as the red and green portions; but for the first time, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, aka NuSTAR, imaged it in high-energy X-rays, which are seen in blue.

The pulsar is some 17,000 light years away and about 12 miles in diameter, the Daily Mail reports, and spins around almost seven times per second, notes a press release. This spinning sends out particles "into material that was upheaved during the star's violent death. These particles are interacting with magnetic fields around the ejected material," generating the "X-ray glow"—though a researcher notes that the image may be "an optical illusion." Either way, "NuSTAR's unique viewpoint, in seeing the highest-energy X-rays, is showing us well-studied objects and regions in a whole new light," says the mission's principal investigator. Sky News reports on the nickname: It's believed to have resulted from similarities between the the image and a portion of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel known as the Hands Of God And Adam.

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Jan 11, 2014 5:25 PM CST
Looks like the can-opener of god to me. With trillions of stars in the visible universe there are bound to be nebula out there that look like all sorts of things. It's the astronomy version of cloud watching.
Jan 11, 2014 4:47 PM CST
So God is a Simpson then?
Jan 11, 2014 8:38 AM CST
Are we back to the science of the ancients describing the points of light in the night as the "Great Bear" and other anthropomorphic terms? How cute...and how little the mind has moved toward understanding the beauty of chaos.