'Hand of God' spotted by NASA space telescope - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

(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.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Van Dyke Construction Scheduled Today

    Van Dyke Construction Scheduled Today

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:48 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:48:59 GMT
    A massive construction project is underway in Macomb County. If you travel on Van Dyke, you know how rough it is. Now, jackhammers are out there tearing up a two-and-a half mile stretch from 11 Mile to Chicago Rd. The road will be milled, then resurfaced with asphalt. New curbs will be installed. Nine intersections get new traffic signals. Sidewalks will be ramped to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Weather permitting, the project will be finished this summer.
    A massive construction project is underway in Macomb County. If you travel on Van Dyke, you know how rough it is. Now, jackhammers are out there tearing up a two-and-a half mile stretch from 11 Mile to Chicago Rd. The road will be milled, then resurfaced with asphalt. New curbs will be installed. Nine intersections get new traffic signals. Sidewalks will be ramped to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Weather permitting, the project will be finished this summer.
  • Chrysler Expanding Presence in China

    Chrysler Expanding Presence in China

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:32 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:32:50 GMT
    Fiat and Chrysler announced plans this weekend to build three new Jeep models in China for that market, the biggest for the vehicles outside the United States, as they attempt to boost sales in a country where they lag behind their competitors. The automakers said they will expand their joint venture with China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd., and increase the portfolio of Jeeps, which are currently imported to China. Production is expected to start in late 2015.
    Fiat and Chrysler announced plans this weekend to build three new Jeep models in China for that market, the biggest for the vehicles outside the United States, as they attempt to boost sales in a country where they lag behind their competitors. The automakers said they will expand their joint venture with China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd., and increase the portfolio of Jeeps, which are currently imported to China. Production is expected to start in late 2015.
  • Ford at the Beijing Auto Show

    Ford at the Beijing Auto Show

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:27 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:27:48 GMT
    Ford Motor Co. on Sunday unveiled a new Escort sedan designed in China for global sale at a Beijing auto show that highlighted the growing influence of Chinese tastes on the industry. Automakers are looking to China's biggest auto show this year to help boost sales in this huge but cooling market. Total sales last year reached 17.9 million vehicles, but growth is expected to slow from 15.7 percent to as low as 8 percent, even as newcomers including Lincoln and Tesla enter the market.
    Ford Motor Co. on Sunday unveiled a new Escort sedan designed in China for global sale at a Beijing auto show that highlighted the growing influence of Chinese tastes on the industry. Automakers are looking to China's biggest auto show this year to help boost sales in this huge but cooling market. Total sales last year reached 17.9 million vehicles, but growth is expected to slow from 15.7 percent to as low as 8 percent, even as newcomers including Lincoln and Tesla enter the market.
  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast
Powered by WorldNow

KDFW FOX 4
400 N. Griffin Street
Dallas, Texas 75202

Main Station Directory:
(214) 720-4444
News Fax:
(214) 720-3263 or (214) 720-3333

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