'Hand of God' spotted by NASA space telescope
- Religion and astronomy may not overlap often, but a new NASA X-ray image captures a celestial object that resembles the "Hand of God."
- The cosmic "hand of God" photo was produced when a star exploded and ejected an enormous cloud of material, which NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, glimpsed in high-energy X-rays, shown in blue in the photo.
- The new image depicts a pulsar wind nebula, produced by the dense remnant of a star that exploded in a supernova.
- What's left behind is a pulsar, called PSR B1509-58 (B1509 for short), which spins around 7 times per second blowing a wind of particles into material ejected during the star's death throes.
- As these particles interact with nearby magnetic fields, they produce an X-ray glow in the shape of a hand. (The pulsar is located near the bright white spot in the image but cannot be seen itself, NASA officials said.)
- Scientists aren't sure whether the ejected material actually assumes the shape of a hand, or whether its interaction with the pulsar's particles is just making it appear that way.
- "We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," Hongjun An, of McGill University in Montreal, said in a statement. "With NuSTAR, the hand looks more like a fist, which is giving us some clues."