Just in time for Halloween, NASA has released a spooky new image that the space agency says shows the “bones” of a “ghostly cosmic hand.”
The hand is actually the remnants of a collapsed giant star, which ran out of nuclear fuel around 1,500 years ago, NASA said in a news release, and is about 16,000 light-years from Earth. After collapsing, it became a dense neutron star. These neutron stars rotate and have strong magnetic fields called pulsars that create intense conditions that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
By focusing two of NASA’s X-ray space telescopes on this neutron star and its surrounding magnetic fields, the agency and its astronomers are able to learn more about how a pulsar injects particles into space and shapes the environment surrounding the star. It’s one of those pulsars that created the hand-shaped structure: X-ray data showed that a young pulsar created a jet of matter and antimatter that moved from the poles of the magnetic field to form a “pulsar wind nebula.”
The nebula in this neutron star is known as MSH 15-52, and resembles a human hand. In the image, the pulsar is the “palm” of the hand, with five ghostly “fingers” stretching on.
“face” on Jupiter.