Giant ghostly 'hand' stretches through space in new X-ray views

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory captured the imagery of this huge, hand-shaped feature. It was created by a supernova blast and its aftermath in a region of space approximately 17,000 light-years away from Earth.A huge ghostly hand extends through space, pressing against a glowing cloud with its wispy fingertips.Although it sounds like science fiction, it is very real. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has images to prove this.Chandra team members stated that the "hand" was created by the supernova explosion that killed a huge star, leaving behind a fast-spinning superdense stellar body known as a Pulsar.Similar: Amazing photos taken by NASA's Chandra X-Ray ObservatoryThe pulsar created a bubble of energy particles around itself. This, along with the supernova blast debris, has resulted in the hand-shaped structure that spans 150 light-years. It's looking for RCW 89, which is a massive gas cloud.MSH 15-52 is the supernova remnant that lies at the center of the hand. It is approximately 17,000 light years from Earth. Chandra team members stated that the light from the explosion of MSH 15-52 reached Earth around 1,700 years ago. This makes MSH 15 52 one of the earliest supernova remnants in the Milky Way galaxy.Related: Haunting photos: The Scariest Nebulas in SpaceChandra has previously photographed the hand; it was the subject for an April 2009 photo release. A recent study, using Chandra imagery from 2008, 2017, and 2018, delved into the dynamics of the hand's dynamic.The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on June 2020. It found that supernova blast waves, which lie at the fingertips of the hand, travel at approximately 9 million mph (14.5million kph). Material closer to the palm moves even faster at over 11 million mph (17.7kph).These speeds are quite impressive, but they slow down the remnant. According to Chandra team members, the material would need to travel at an average speed of almost 30,000,000 miles per hour [48.2 millions kph] to reach RCW 89's farthest edge.They explained that this difference in speed indicates that the material has been through a low density cavity of gas, and then been significantly decelerated when it runs into RCW89.Chandra team members believe that the star dead likely created this cavity shortly before it exploded, when it lost much of its outer hydrogen layer.Chandra has been observing the cosmos with X-ray light since more than 20 years. The telescope was launched into orbit on the Columbia spaceship in July 1999.Chandra is one among four NASA "Great Observatories" that were launched between 1990-2003. Other NASA "Great Observatories" include the Hubble Space Telescope which is still active (though it's having technical difficulties right now); the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory which launched in 1991, and ended its mission at 2000; and the Spitzer Space Telescope which was infrared-optimized and launched in 2003.