[God Hand]Watch a ‘cosmic hand hitting a wall’ in eerie images from outer space

Tag: 2021-07-16 19:58

  Across the course of 14 years, NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory has observed the “Hand of God”, a distant nebula that resembles a giant, cosmic hand reaching through space toward a wall of red gas. Now, the space agency has shared imagery that measures its journey through space for the first time.

  Also known as the “Cosmic Hand Hitting a Wall” or MSH 15-52 (slightly less catchy), the structure is actually the remnants of an exploded star, comprising debris from the supernova, the blast wave from the explosion, and an X-ray-emitting nebula blown apart by a pulsar. The various compnents came together to resemble fingers and a palm as they expanded into space.

  Light from the explosion, meanwhile, is estimated to have reached Earth around 1,700 years ago, when the Mayan empire was flourishing (though that actually makes the remnant it formed one of the younger examples of its kind in the Milky Way).

  The new study tracks how quickly the “hand” is moving as it makes impact with the wall of surrounding gas (RCW 89), and how it changes as it expands outward. Specifically, the research uses data from 2004 and 2008, and a combined image from observations made in late 2017 and early 2018, comparing these three “epochs” to visualise the nebula’s motion.