Nasa ‘Hand of God’ Photo

We gazed in wonder at the cool Nasa picture the ‘eye of god’. Now it’s the turn of the ‘hand of god’. A spinning star resembling a giant cosmic hand has been captured in images taken by a Nasa observatory orbiting miles above the Earth’s surface. The Chandra X-ray Observatory pictured the star, which measures 12 miles across, about 17,000 light years from Earth. What appears, with a little imagination, to be the outstretched fingers were created by a spinning neutron star known as a pulsar buried deep inside the fist, which releases energy as it rotates. Although the pulsar itself is only 12 miles in diameter, the cloud or nebula that it produces stretches across 150 light years of space.

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If you look at the wrist of the hand, you’ll see a brighter swirl of gas. In the center of that blob is a tiny object, a neutron star called B1509: an incredibly dense sphere of subatomic particles, leftover when a massive star goes supernova. While the outer layers of the star explode outwards, the core of the star collapses, cramming twice the mass of the Sun into a ball only a few kilometers across. This newly born neutron star — called that because the pressure is so great in the collapsed object that electrons and protons are rammed together to form neutrons — is basically the definition of the word incredible: it spins several times per second, has a surface gravity millions of times that of the Earth (if you were on the surface you’d be crushed flatter than a good science fiction program’s chances to be renewed on Fox), and has a magnetic field 30 trillion times that of the Earth’s.

Dubbed the Hand of God, following on from an ‘Eye of God’ image released by European astronomers in February, the nebula pictured in the new X-ray was produced by the pulsar B1509, which is about 17,000 light years away.

 

Neutron stars are created when standard stars run out of fuel and collapse, and Nasa believes that the one pictured is rotating around seven times a second.

The golden-red lights in the image are actually part of a neighbouring gas cloud, which has been energised by the wind of electrons and ions being spewed out from the pulsar. The colours of the image represent different energy intensities – the blue lights are the areas of highest energy X-rays, followed by green and then red.

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2 Comments

  • Reply April 19, 2009

    Anonymous

    Taking it one step further, could one imagine that the “blob” in the middle of the wrist is the place where Christ was nailed to the cross? Some stories say that it was through the wrist and not the palm of the hand, as that would sever the artery.
    Amazing photo, as was the eye. More things beyond our comprehension than one could ever imagine – and yes, I know the scientists will justify the whole thing with their own explanations! I prefer to see it as I do.

  • Reply January 8, 2010

    Anonymous

    If we were to consider the coincidences that make up the image we see, it can be really difficult to think of this whole thing as pure chance upon chance.
    -17000 light years away means we are seeing what occured 17000 years ago.
    -Our position relative to the pulsar such that we get an image that looks like a hand.

    It really is an amazing sight.

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