NASA unveiled a creepy new space image showing the bones of a “ghostly cosmic hand” – actually a pulsar wind nebula from a collapsed star. The hand was captured using specialized telescopes.
Eerie Image Shows “Bones” of Neutron Star’s Magnetic Fields
In a Halloween-timed announcement, NASA shared a spooky X-ray image resembling a skeletal human hand extending into space. The agency released the photo on October 28th.
The hand shape comes from a pulsar wind nebula – jets of particles streaming from a highly magnetic neutron star, which formed when a giant star collapsed after running out of fuel.
Telescopes Map the Structure of Stellar Remnant
NASA focused two advanced X-ray space telescopes on the neutron star MSH 15-52 to map its nebula and magnetic environment in detail.
One telescope studied the nebula for 17 straight days, the longest continuous observation it has ever made. This generated precise maps of the magnetic fields shaping the nebula into a hand.
Magnetic Fields Act as “Bones” of the Cosmic Hand
Astronomers explained the powerful magnetic fields essentially act as the “bones” of the nebula hand, guiding the flow of energized particles along their contours.
The long exposure revealed the fields create a remarkably orderly, uniform structure with minimal turbulence across much of the nebula.
Turbulence Gives “Fingers” Their Defined Shape
However, some areas do exhibit turbulence. Researchers believe this turbulence boosts the energy of particles, propelling them into the “fingers” extending from the nebula.
This gives the fingers and thumb their well-defined shape, stemming from the pulsar at the nebula’s core, akin to a hand’s palm.
Findings Help Understand Pulsar Particle Acceleration
By studying the particle flows along magnetic channels, scientists gain insights into how pulsars accelerate matter and antimatter particles to tremendous speeds.
Mapping the magnetic fields and turbulence informs models of these powerful stellar particle accelerators studied for high-energy physics.
Creepy Cosmic Images Ideal for Halloween Season
The hand nebula underscores how mimicking Halloween themes helps generate public excitement around space discoveries.
Other recent creepy images include Jupiter’s “face” and the “jack-o-lantern” remains of a stellar collision. Science and festivity intersect through captivating visuals.
In summary, NASA’s new image of a ghostly cosmic hand revealed through specialized telescopes provides both scientific insights and Halloween thrills. Studying such stellar oddities uncovers the secrets of our strange universe.
OK. I like it. Picasso!
The #JunoMission captured this view in Jupiter’s far north that resembles a Cubist portrait displaying multiple perspectives.
— NASA (@NASA) October 25, 2023