GlobalPost | News | Space

'Hand of God' Photo Captured by NASA Telescope



NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array released an image of a dead star Friday nicknamed the "Hand of God," renewing debate about religion and astronomy.

It may look like an X-ray from the doctor's office.

But it's actually an enormous cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded an estimated 17,000 light years away.

"We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," McGill University's Hongjun An said in a statement from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) Mission.

The object is known as a pulsar wind nebula.

Dubbed PSR B1509-58 (B1509 for short), it measures about 12 miles in diameter and spins around at a brisk seven times per second.

As the dead star spins, it spews particles "upheaved during the star's violent death," according to NuSTAR.

One of the big mysteries is whether the pulsar particles are interacting with material ejected from the star in a specific way to make it look like a hand, or if the material is in fact shaped like a hand, NASA said in a statement.

Launched in June 2012, the NuSTAR space telescope is tasked with observing black holes, dead and exploded stars and "other extreme objects," according to NuSTAR.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. "renewing debate about religion and astronomy" ??

    I guess in the same way seeing Jesus on a piece of toast renews the debate about religion and gastronomy...

    Posted by: David | Jan 11, 2014 4:34:56 PM

  2. yes, the same way Jesus on fresh snow renews the debate about religion and urology.....and mountain deer.

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Jan 11, 2014 4:38:53 PM

  3. Oh great, now this will spread all over Facebook as further "proof" that a god exists, just like that time all the Christians thought that finding the "god particle" meant that scientists had actually found god.

    Please, science-minded people, stop releasing stuff like this or naming stuff "hand of god" or "god particle," because the simple-minded among our population don't realize that you're not actually confirming their nutso beliefs.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jan 11, 2014 4:39:13 PM

  4. It's actually the hand of Apollo from that Star Trek episode.

    Posted by: Hank | Jan 11, 2014 4:46:59 PM

  5. I see god has only three fingers - what's the theological implication of that?

    Really, NASA will do anything to get its name in the news.

    Posted by: tominsf | Jan 11, 2014 4:52:30 PM

  6. It actually looks like a man with fiery hair and a big d*ck!

    Posted by: Robert | Jan 11, 2014 5:04:32 PM

  7. 12 miles in diameter ?

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Jan 11, 2014 5:18:05 PM

  8. "We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," said the scientist(?) from McGill. Are you kidding me?

    And what about the anal ring structure? Is it just an optical illusion too or an actual anus?

    Posted by: james st. james | Jan 11, 2014 5:20:42 PM

  9. Oh, Mother Mary on a Dorito, for chrisakes!

    Posted by: MFinBH | Jan 11, 2014 5:40:57 PM

  10. Yeah, like it looks like a hand from any other angle.

    It's like clouds. There are so damn many things in space that some of them are bound to look like something.

    And like all the bearded guys on slices of toast or office building walls, why would it be God, and not someone else?

    OK, it looks like a hand. Why not Zeus? Or Liberace?

    Posted by: Lymis | Jan 11, 2014 5:50:32 PM

  11. Every Green Lantern fan just wet his pants.

    Posted by: FakeName | Jan 11, 2014 5:57:13 PM

  12. It doesn't look like a hand. End of story.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 11, 2014 6:01:46 PM

  13. @TOMINSF So the implication is that the god thing is, in part, physiologically constructed most like a cartoon character. But the Simpsons has definitively shown that the Abrahamic creator deity is four-fingered. This dilemma is most perplexing - which do I believe scientific pareidolia or animated parody?

    Posted by: Quicksilver | Jan 11, 2014 6:13:17 PM

  14. So now there's a pareidolia for hands?

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jan 11, 2014 6:13:50 PM

  15. The hand of which god, out of the dozens in current use? And why that one god, rather than any of the others?

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Jan 11, 2014 6:56:45 PM

  16. Oh, and here is a very useful word for when alleged deities appear on tortillas or in pee stains on walls: pareidolia.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Jan 11, 2014 6:57:37 PM

  17. Looks like god has a fracture of the forearm

    Posted by: Fausto Fernandez | Jan 11, 2014 7:14:17 PM

  18. God's arm still missing.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 11, 2014 7:31:29 PM

  19. It's Galactus and we're all doomed.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Jan 11, 2014 8:15:08 PM

  20. The God of Christianity probably doesn't have a hand. The Christian Churches are a bit ambiguous about this. You never see the statue of God in Christian Churches.
    It is more appropriately called the palm of Budda. Very often the statues of Budda in temples hold one hand out with his palm facing outward.

    Posted by: simon | Jan 11, 2014 8:43:02 PM

  21. This is way cool!

    Posted by: JMC | Jan 11, 2014 8:49:30 PM

  22. Awesome. A tiny glimpse of the splendor of the universe.

    Posted by: andrew | Jan 12, 2014 12:05:57 PM

  23. it's a gorgeous image, and a humbling one.

    though i can't see how in any intelligent mind it would ignite any ideas about religion. my sister sent me an hilarious article about people flocking to a village near hers in Wales to see the image of Jesus that appeared on a potato chip.. Yes, Christ on a Crisp.


    dear stars, keep blowing up. it looks cool. #instagramthat

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 12, 2014 2:07:12 PM

  24. ""We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," McGill University's Hongjun An said in a statement from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) Mission."

    Please tell me that was deadpan humor. Otherwise, i find it somewhat disturbing that Mr. Hongjun is associated with any project with the word "nuclear" in its title.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 12, 2014 2:14:30 PM

Post a comment


« «Karma Bites Christie In The Ass!« «