b1509

High-Energy X-ray View of ‘Hand of God’

Nicknamed the “Hand of God,” this object is called a pulsar wind nebula. It’s powered by the leftover, dense core of a star that blew up in a supernova explosion. The stellar corpse, called PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short, is a pulsar: it rapidly spins around, seven times per second, firing out a particle wind into the material around it – material that was ejected in the star’s explosion. These particles are interacting with magnetic fields around the material, causing it to glow with X-rays. The result is a cloud that, in previous images, looked like an open hand. The pulsar itself can’t be seen in this picture, but is located near the bright white spot.

Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill
Source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA17566

Illusions in the Cosmic Clouds: Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.

When an image from NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58 a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission.

In a new image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with infrared data from NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope in red, green and blue. Pareidolia may strike again as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISEs infrared data. What do you see?

NASAs Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, also took a picture of the neutron star nebula in 2014, using higher-energy X-rays than Chandra.

PSR B1509-58 is about 17,000 light-years from Earth.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the WISE mission for NASA. NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandras science and flight operations.

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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The ‘Hand of God’ nebula.

Can you see the shape of a hand in this new X-ray image? 

The hand might look like an X-ray from the doctor’s office, but it is actually a cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has imaged the structure in high-energy X-rays for the first time, shown in blue. Lower-energy X-ray light previously detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is shown in green and red.

Nicknamed the “Hand of God,” this object is called a pulsar wind nebula. It’s powered by the leftover, dense core of a star that blew up in a supernova explosion. The stellar corpse, called PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short, is a pulsar: it rapidly spins around, seven times per second, firing out a particle wind into the material around it – material that was ejected in the star’s explosion. These particles are interacting with magnetic fields around the material, causing it to glow with X-rays. The result is a cloud that looks like an open hand. The pulsar itself can’t be seen in this picture, but is located near the bright white spot.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill

Pulsar’s Hand: ‘The Hand of God’

Image Credit: P. Slane (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA) et al., CXC, NASA; Image Processing: Rogelio Bernal Andreo

As far as pulsars go, PSR B1509-58 appears young. Light from the supernova explosion that gave birth to it would have first reached Earth some 1,700 years ago.

The magnetized, 20 kilometer-diameter neutron star spins 7 times per second, a cosmic dynamo that powers a wind of charged particles. The energetic wind creates the surrounding nebula’s X-ray glow in this tantalizing image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Low energy X-rays are in red, medium energies in green, and high energies in blue.

The pulsar itself is in the bright central region. Remarkably, the nebula’s tantalizing, complicated structure resembles a hand. PSR B1509-58 is about 17,000 light-years away in the southern constellation Circinus. At that distance the Chandra image spans 100 light-years.[**]

Illusions in the cosmic clouds

Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.

When an image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58 – a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles –was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission.

In a new image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with infrared data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope in red, green and blue. Pareidolia may strike again as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISE’s infrared data. What do you see?

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Pulsar in the Celestial Hand

The Pulsar PSR B1509-58 (B1509 for short) is responsible for this stunning nebula shaped like a hand about 17,000 light-years away. This image was captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, with the highest-energy X-rays depicted in blue, the medium range in green, and the lowest ones in red. Due to a psychological phenomenon known as Pareidolia, B1509 appears as a human-like hand reaching out into the cosmos. Pareidolia occurs when a familiar shape or object is perceived in random, and often ambiguous, images. Other examples include the illusory human face on the Martian surface, or the classic “Man in the Moon”.

While this nebula has been nicknamed the Hand of God, the origins of B1509 can be explained through natural astrophysical events. In the middle of this image is a very young and dense pulsar around 19 kilometres in diameter. A pulsar (pulsating star) is formed when a star explodes in a supernova and maintains most of its magnetism, which is compressed into a comparatively tiny space. The magnetism of a pulsar is so powerful that it sends 2 narrow beams of radiation shooting out from its magnetic axis. As the star spins around, its beams sweep the sky in the manner of an incredibly fast lighthouse beam.

B1509 spins at a rate of 7 revolutions per second, sending a wind of electrons and ions into the surrounding material left over from the supernova. It is one of the most powerful electromagnetic generators in the galaxy due to its fast rotation and powerful magnetic field. As the particles move away from the pulsar and interact with the magnetic field, they create an X-ray light that appears in the intricate form of a hand. The knotted structures which resemble fingers are the result of the pulsar’s wind transferring energy into a cloud of gas nearby called RCW 89, which are illuminated in X-rays.

While this nebula has an uncanny resemblance to a human-like hand, scientists are uncertain as to whether the material is really shaped like a hand, or whether it’s just an optical illusion caused by the pulsar’s particles interacting with material. Nonetheless, this image adds to the growing collection of imaged nebulae which showcase the artistry of the cosmos.

~ eKAT

IMAGE CREDIT:
NASA/CXC/SAO/P. Slane, et al.

SOURCES:
A Young Pulsar Shows Its Hand
‘Hand of God’ Spotted by NASA Space Telescope
Sparrow, Giles 2015, ‘Star Death’, Astronomy in Minutes, Quercus Editions Ltd, London.

Face Illusion in the Cosmic Clouds

Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.

When an image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58 – a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles –was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission.

In this image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with infrared data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope in red, green and blue. Pareidolia may strike again as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISE’s infrared data.

Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO: X-ray; NASA/JPL-Caltech: Infrared

Illusions in the Cosmic Clouds : Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.

When an image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58 – a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles –was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission.

In a new image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with infrared data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope in red, green and blue. Pareidolia may strike again as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISE’s infrared data. What do you see?

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, also took a picture of the neutron star nebula in 2014, using higher-energy X-rays than Chandra.

PSR B1509-58 is about 17,000 light-years from Earth.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the WISE mission for NASA.  NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech (via NASA)