A remarkable X-ray taken by scientists reveals the distinctly human shape formed of material from an exploded star. The mysterious formation is an example of a pulsar wind nebula, created from the dense core of the star after a supernova blast.
Rapidly spinning – seven times per second – this core fires a “particle wind” into the vacuum of space and the material from the star.
Interaction between these particles and the magnetic fields around the material causes an X-ray glow that resembles an open hand.
The core, called the pulsar, can’t actually be seen in the picture but it is believed to be near the bright white spot. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, NuSTAR for short, originally photographed the incredible scene in 2014.
But experts remain unsure whether the formation is actually shaped like a hand or simply appears that way to us.
X-ray light with less energy is represented in the picture by red and green, while light with more energy is in blue. The Hand of God is 17,000 light-years away and its pulsar is 19km (12 miles) in diameter.
Earlier this month the Hubble Space Telescope found the oldest and farthest away galaxy in the known universe, 13.4 billion lightyears away.