October 20, 2017

17.05.11: A “Cosmic Hand.”

Pulsar PSR B1509-58. (Credit: NASA/Chandra/CXC/SAO/P. Slane et al.)

“Wow…” Of course, this word often applies itself to the jaw-dropping field of astronomy… but the picture above really merits it. The image was snapped by the Chandra X-ray observatory. It displays pulsar PSR B1509-58 within a hand-shaped nebula located about 17,000 light years distant. As seen from Earth, this stellar remnant is believed to be only 1,700 years old, a tender young age cosmologically speaking. B1509 spins about 7 times per second and is energizing the dust expanding outward as it slams into the interstellar medium. And yes, although Chandra sees the universe in X-rays, what we see here is a colorized version with those particles depicted in blue being the most energetic. Perhaps this is reminiscent to some viewers of the famous “Pillars of Creation” shots taken by Hubble of the M16 Eagle Nebula… I’m reminded of the old “Hand of Creation” mythos that the Guardians of Oa were forbidden to view past in the old Green Lantern comics, but hey, that’s just how my mind works.

The nebula imaged above spans an area of 150 light years wide, some 10x times wider than the Crab Nebula. A pulsar such as B1509 has a magnetic field some 15 trillion times that of the Earth, condensed into the diameter of a large city…

Sometimes you just gotta say “Wow!!!”


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