NASA 'Hand of God' Exploded Star Dazzles in Multicolored Photo

Image: NASA 'Hand of God' Exploded Star Dazzles in Multicolored Photo

Friday, 10 Jan 2014 01:03 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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The image of an enormous multicolored exploded star in outer space that is 17,000 light years away has earned the name "Hand of God" from NASA astronomers.

The image was produced from an exploding star that left a large cloud of material in space, according to LiveScience. The image was spotted by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) using high-energy X-rays. The agency's space-bound Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed green and red images previously using lower-energy X-rays. 

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"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 investigator Fiona Harrison, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said in a statement.

The image shows a pulsar wind nebula, a dying star and the cloud of materials left over from the star after it exploded. The leftover star's particles were interacting with nearby magnetic fields, causing them to glow. 

"It's unclear if the nebula looks like a hand because of the way the particles are interacting with the magnetic fields, or if the particles are actually shaped like a hand," USA Today reported.

"NuSTAR's view is providing new clues to the puzzle (of the hand's shape)," the NuStar website says. "The hand actually shrinks in the NuSTAR image, looking more like a fist, as indicated by the blue color. 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." 

The red cloud at the top of the finger region is a different structure altogether, called RCW 89. Astronomers believe the pulsar's wind is heating the cloud, causing it to glow in the reddish color with lower-energy X-ray light.

USA Today noted that the NuSTAR space telescope, which was put into orbit in June 2012, was created to observe black holes, dead and exploded stars and "other extreme objects."

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