The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Hand of God

As one who has studied and always enjoyed astronomy, I occasionally drop by some of the NASA and other related websites. This image (below) was posted on NASA's site about a week ago.

The image was released by the folks who operate NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. It's the image of the results of a pulsar's X-ray emissions. Pulsars are neutron stars that rotate very fast and have extremely strong magnetic fields. In a sense pulsars are a glimpse of the death throes of formerly large stars that expended their fuel and collapsed in on themselves. We can observe their emissions only during those brief periods of their rotation when they are pointed towards us, so they seem to "pulse" -- hence, the name "pulsar."

The particular pulsar in this image is only about 12 miles in diameter, but it's period of rotation is just 1/7 of a second. The emissions seen in the photograph extend out about 150 light years and seem to have taken the shape of a giant hand in space. It is located in our home galaxy, the Milky Way, and is approximately 17,000 light years from earth.

I just thought it was a neat image. To view a larger image, click on the photo.

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