'Hand of God' spotted by NASA space telescope - New York News

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill)

'Hand of God' spotted by NASA space telescope

Posted: Updated:
The hand is actually a cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded. NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft has imaged the structure in high-energy X-rays for the first time, shown in blue. Low (NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill) The hand is actually a cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded. NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft has imaged the structure in high-energy X-rays for the first time, shown in blue. Low (NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill)

(FOXNEWS.com) -- 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. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory had imaged the green and red parts previously, using lower-energy X-rays.

"NuSTAR's unique viewpoint, in seeing the highest-energy X-rays, is showing us well-studied objects and regions in a whole new light," NuSTAR telescope principal investigator Fiona Harrison, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said in a statement.

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."

The red cloud appearing at the fingertips is a separate structure called RCW 89. The pulsar's wind may be heating the cloud to produce the low-energy X-ray glow, astronomers believe.

The X-ray energies seen by NuSTAR range from 7 to 25 kiloelectron volts, or keV, whereas the energies seen by Chandra range from 0.5 to 2 keV.

The Hand of God is an example of pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon of perceiving familiar shapes in random or vague images. Other common forms of pareidolia include seeing animals or faces in clouds, or the man in the moon. Despite its supernatural appearance, the Hand of God was produced by natural astrophysical phenomena.

See more on FOXNews.com.

  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • FAA ends ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv

    FAA ends ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv

    Thursday, July 24 2014 5:39 AM EDT2014-07-24 09:39:16 GMT
    The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. carriers from flying to Tel Aviv. The announcement was made late Wednesday night.The FAA had extended the ban on Thursday afternoon after its first ban went into effect 24 hours earlier. The decision was made after a rocket launched into Israel from Gaza landed near the Ben Gurion Airport.
    The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. carriers from flying to Tel Aviv. The announcement was made late Wednesday night.The FAA had extended the ban on Thursday afternoon after its first ban went into effect 24 hours earlier.  The decision was made after a rocket launched into Israel from Gaza landed near the Ben Gurion Airport.
  • Funeral for man who died after NYPD choke hold arrest

    Funeral for man who died after NYPD choke hold arrest

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:46:09 GMT
    An overflow crowd packed a church on Wednesday night for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent choke hold. Eric Garner's relatives stopped in front of his open casket, some weeping and wailing. A preacher opened the service at Brooklyn's Bethel Baptist Church with a mix of solemn prayer and an organ-backed gospel medley.
    An overflow crowd packed a church on Wednesday night for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent choke hold. Eric Garner's relatives stopped in front of his open casket, some weeping and wailing. A preacher opened the service at Brooklyn's Bethel Baptist Church with a mix of solemn prayer and an organ-backed gospel medley.
  • Another video shows NYPD cop putting man in choke hold

    Another video shows NYPD cop putting man in choke hold

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:08 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:08:13 GMT
    The NYPD is investigating another apparent choke-hold incident during a recent arrest that was captured on video. The video shows a police officer putting a man in a choke hold and then punching him in the face in a subway station in Harlem, police said. A community activist said he received the new video but never had any intention of releasing it to the media.
    The NYPD is investigating another apparent choke-hold incident during a recent arrest that was captured on video. The video shows a police officer putting a man in a choke hold and then punching him in the face in a subway station in Harlem, police said. A community activist said he received the new video but never had any intention of releasing it to the media.
  • What's HotMore>>

  • Police: Pair taped having sex on Bradenton Beach

    Police: Pair taped having sex on Bradenton Beach

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:22 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:22:58 GMT
    Police arrested a couple accused of having sex in front of dozens Sunday afternoon on Bradenton beach, and it was all caught on tape.
    Police arrested a couple accused of having sex in front of dozens Sunday afternoon on Bradenton beach, and it was all caught on tape.
  • To Heaven and Back: Boy Dies Three Times Following Car Accident

    To Heaven and Back: Boy Dies Three Times Following Car Accident

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:09:09 GMT
    Landon Whitley lost his father in a car accident, but he, too, was pronounced dead at the scene. He says he went to heaven -- and returned three times.
    Landon Whitley lost his father in a car accident, but he, too, was pronounced dead at the scene. He says he went to heaven -- and returned three times.
  • Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

    Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:10:17 GMT
    FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) -- A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution before he died. The episode is likely to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's office said Joseph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. Wednesday, one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started. Wood's lawyers had filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court while the execution was underway, deman...
    FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) -- A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution before he died. The episode is likely to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's office said Joseph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. Wednesday, one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started. Wood's lawyers had filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court while the execution was underway, deman...
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices