News Column

NASA Captures 'Hand of God'

January 10, 2014

Sky News (UK)

hand of god
NASA offered this photo of an exploding star dubbed 'The Hand of God' (Sky News)

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured an image showing a structure nicknamed the "Hand of God."

Scientists said it was a nebula - a cloud of gas - around a neutron star called PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short.

Neutron stars are created when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse.

The star has collapsed so much, Nasa says it is only 12 miles across and incredibly dense.

When it collapsed, it also caused an explosion which cast gas and material out into space.

It revolves at seven times a second and in doing so it throws out huge amounts of sub-atomic particles in streams.

It is the interaction between the particles and the gas that, when photographed with a special camera, create the amazing image.

A previous image of the "hand" was captured in 2009 by Nasa's Chandra X-ray observatory - a telescope contained in a satellite which is able to see X-rays 100 times fainter than any detector on Earth.

The new image was taken by the agency's "black-hole hunting" Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuStar) which is able to see even the highest energy X-rays.

Nasa says B1509 is 17,000 light years away.

It has an intense magnetic field at its surface, estimated to be 15 trillion times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field.

Nasa said: "NuStar's view is providing new clues to the puzzle.

"The hand actually shrinks in the NuStar image, looking more like a fist, as indicated by the blue colour.

"The northern region, where the fingers are located, shrinks more than the southern part, where a jet lies, implying the two areas are physically different."

It is thought the hand was initially nicknamed the "hand of God" because it bears similarities to a detail from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, dubbed The Hands Of God And Adam.

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(c) Sky News 2014

Original headline: New 'Hand Of God' Picture Taken By Nasa



Source: (c) Sky News 2014


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