Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Hand of God...

The hand of God reaching out into Space...

A ghostly blue cloud seems to form an outstretched thumb and fingers grasping a ball of fire in this photo taken by NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory, orbiting 360 miles above the Earth. The "hand" was created when a star exploded in a supernova, creating a rapidly spinning 12 mile-wide star called a pulsar, which is deep inside the white blob at the hand's wrist. The pulsar is spewing out enormous amounts of electromagnetic energy, creating a dust and gas cloud so wide it would take 150 years to cross at the speed of light.

The red disc is a separate gas cloud and the fingers are thought to have been created as energy passed from the pulsar to the gas cloud. NASA scientists estimated the moment depicted here actually happened 17,000 years ago and it has taken that long for the X-rays to reach Earth, traveling at 671 mph.

It is reminiscent of "The Eye of God..." this NASA photo from the Hubble telescope in 2003. What it actually depicts is the so-called Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases." At its center is dying star which has ejected masses of dust and gas to form tentacle-like filaments stretching toward an outer rim composed of the same material.

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