Written by Sama Labib
Wednesday, November 1, 2023 12:00 AM
Agency published NASA A spooky image described at Halloween as a “ghostly cosmic hand” actually shows MSH 15-52, a cloud of energetic particles resembling a human hand.
As DigitalTrend reports, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NASA’s X-ray Polarimetry (IXPE) telescope captured this stunning image.
Chandra first observed the pulsar PSR P1509-58 in 2001, and scientists quickly noticed how the pulsar’s wind nebula (MSH 15-52) bears a striking resemblance to a part of the human body.
A pulsar wind nebula is formed by intense winds of particles and jets drifting away from the poles of a pulsar, a collapsed star that is highly magnetized and rapidly rotating. , located about 16,000 light-years from Earth.
NASA’s new X-ray telescope, IXPE, has studied MSH 15-52 for more than two weeks, the longest it has spent observing any object since its launch in December 2021.
“The IXPE data give us the first map of the magnetic field at hand,” said Roger Romani of Stanford University in California, who led the study. “The charged particles that produce the X-rays travel through the magnetic field, determining the basic shape of the nebula, which is like the bones in a person’s hand.”
Commenting on the research, co-author Josephine Wong of Stanford University said: “We are all familiar with X-rays as a diagnostic medical tool for humans, and here we use X-rays in a different way, but once again they reveal information that is hidden from us.
Astronomers use X-ray images like these to learn more about how these objects form in deep space.