If you haven’t seen the photo of the Chandra Nebula recently released by NASA, you’ll want to take a look below. It’s simply stunning in its own right, and it’s a great example of “pareidolia” — a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct. The nebula is now commonly being referred to as ‘the hand of God.’ But God’s hand is some 17,000 light years away from earth. And here I always thought he had the whole wide world in his hands.
I’ve also included a reprint of a Yahoo news article about it below for those of you who want to find out a bit more about the science side of it.
Tiny and dying but still-powerful stars called pulsars spin like crazy and light up their surroundings, often with ghostly glows. So it is with PSR B1509-58, which long ago collapsed into a sphere just 12 miles in diameter after running out of fuel.
And what a strange scene this one has created.
In a new image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, high-energy X-rays emanating from the nebula around PSR B1509-58 have been colored blue to reveal a structure resembling a hand reaching for some eternal red cosmic light.
The star now spins around at the dizzying pace of seven times every second — as pulsars do — spewing energy into space that creates the scene.
Strong magnetic fields, 15 trillion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field, are thought to be involved, too. The combination drives an energetic wind of electrons and ions away from the dying star. As the electrons move through the magnetized nebula, they radiate away their energy as X-rays.
The red light actually a neighboring gas cloud, RCW 89, energized into glowing by the fingers of the PSR B1509-58 nebula, astronomers believe.
The scene, which spans 150 light-years, is about 17,000 light years away, so what we see now is how it actually looked 17,000 years ago, and that light is just arriving here.
A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).