These pictures are out of this ghoul-axy.
Just in time for Halloween, NASA revealed that the “bones of a ghostly cosmic hand” that died 1,500 years ago are reaching out just above our heads.
Breathtaking telescopic images released by the space agency Monday show what appears to be a massive, four-fingered outstretched hand swirling around the Milky Way in purple plumes.
The spectral phalanges of pulsar wind nebula — known as MSH 15-52 — are the remnants of a giant star that collapsed on itself after running out of nuclear fuel to burn more than 15 centuries ago, forming an extremely dense object called a neutron star.
It continues to live on “through plumes of particles of energized matter and antimatter” that fluctuates in an intense wind — 16,000 light-years from Earth.
The haunting images of the hand-shaped pulsar were captured by two of NASA’s telescopes — including the new Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which viewed the structure for 17 days, the longest it has looked at any single object since it launched in December 2021.
“The IXPE data gives us the first map of the magnetic field in the ‘hand,’” Roger Romani of Stanford University, who led the study, said in a release.
“The charged particles producing the X-rays travel along the magnetic field, determining the basic shape of the nebula, like the bones do in a person’s hand.”
NASA’s scientists have known about the pulsar since 2001, when they discovered it swirling at the base of the “palm” of the nebula.
The novel images are working to help scientists better understand how pulsars behave — namely that they work as particle accelerators.
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