Nasa telescope clicks `Hand of God`

Last Updated: Saturday, January 11, 2014 - 12:31

Washington: NASA`s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has showcased the telescope`s talent with an image showing the energized remains of a dead star, a structure nicknamed the "Hand of God" after its resemblance to a hand.

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

NuSTAR launched into space June 13, 2012, on a mission to explore the high-energy X-ray universe. It is observing black holes, dead and exploded stars and other extreme objects in our own Milky Way galaxy and beyond.

The new " Hand of God" image shows a nebula 17,000 light-years away, powered by a dead, spinning star called PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short.

The dead star, called a pulsar, is the leftover core of a star that exploded in a supernova.

The pulsar is only about 19 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter but packs a big punch: it is spinning around nearly seven times every second, spewing particles into material that was upheaved during the star`s violent death.

These particles are interacting with magnetic fields around the ejected material, causing it to glow with X-rays. The result is a cloud that looks like a hand.

One of the big mysteries of this object, called a pulsar wind nebula, is whether the pulsar`s particles are interacting with the material in a specific way to make it appear as a hand, or if the material is in fact shaped like a hand.

"We don`t know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," Hongjun An of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, said.

"With NuSTAR, the hand looks more like a fist, which is giving us some clues," An said.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill

ANI


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