Astronomers Capture Cosmic Hand Hitting a Wall – Watch Blast Wave Moving at 9 Million MPH

Pulsar Hand

Astronomers have captured the movement of the expanding remains of an exploded star. Chandra data taken over 14 years show a blast wave and debris moving away from the site of the explosion. The graphics present the entire hand-shaped nebula observed by Chandra, which was produced by the pulsar left behind after the explosion. The close-ups highlight movement in the explosion’s blast wave in a region located near one of the “fingertips”. The fixed squares enclose clumps of magnesium and neon that likely formed in the star before it exploded and shot into space once the star blew up. Astronomers estimate that it has slowed down from the initial explosion after striking a neighboring gas cloud, but is still moving at nearly 9 million miles per hour. Credit: NASA/SAO/NCSU/Borkowski et al.

  • Watch as the blast wave from an exploded star moves at nearly 9 million miles per hour.
  • Astronomers captured this movement by combining data spanning 14 years from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
  • This hand-shaped structure is a nebula of energy and particles blown by a pulsar left behind after the star exploded.
  • The blast wave is slamming into a wall of gas from a neighboring cloud, causing it to slow down.

Motions of a remarkable cosmic structure have been measured for the first time, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The blast wave and debris from an exploded star are seen moving away from the explosion site and colliding with a wall of surrounding gas.

Astronomers estimate that light from the supernova explosion reached Earth about 1,700 years ago, or when the Mayan empire was flourishing and the Jin dynasty ruled China. However, by cosmic standards the supernova remnant formed by the explosion, called MSH 15-52, is one of the youngest in the Milky Way galaxy. The explosion also created an ultra-dense, magnetized star called a pulsar, which then blew a bubble of energetic particles, an X-ray-emitting nebula.

Since the explosion the supernova remnant — made of debris from the shattered star, plus the explosion’s blast wave — and the X-ray nebula have been changing as they expand outward into space. Notably, the supernova remnant and X-ray nebula now resemble the shape of fingers and a palm.

Previously, astronomers had released a full Chandra view of the “hand,” as shown in the main graphic. A new study is now reporting how quickly the supernova remnant associated with the hand is moving, as it strikes a cloud of gas called RCW 89. The inner edge of this cloud forms a gas wall located about 35 light-years from the center of the explosion.

To track the motion the team used Chandra data from 2004, 2008, and then a combined image from observations taken in late 2017 and early 2018.

Timelapse: 2004, 2008, 2018

The rectangle (fixed in space) highlights the motion of the explosion’s blast wave, which is located near one of the fingertips. This feature is moving at almost 9 million miles (14.5 million kilometers) per hour. The fixed squares (seen in the images below) enclose clumps of magnesium and neon that likely formed in the star before it exploded and shot into space once the star blew up. Some of this explosion debris is moving at even faster speeds of more than 11 million miles per hour. A color version of the 2018 image shows the fingers in blue and green and the clumps of magnesium and neon in red and yellow.

While these are startling high speeds, they actually represent a slowing down of the remnant. Researchers estimate that to reach the farthest edge of RCW 89, material would have to travel on average at almost 30 million miles per hour. This estimate is based on the age of the supernova remnant and the distance between the center of the explosion and RCW 89. This difference in speed implies that the material has passed through a low-density cavity of gas and then been significantly decelerated by running into RCW 89.

The exploded star likely lost part or all of its outer layer of hydrogen gas in a wind, forming such a cavity, before exploding, as did the star that exploded to form the well-known supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A), which is much younger at an age of about 350 years. About 30% of massive stars that collapse to form supernovas are of this type. The clumps of debris seen in the 1,700-year-old supernova remnant could be older versions of those seen in Cas A at optical wavelengths in terms of their initial speeds and densities. This means that these two objects may have the same underlying source for their explosions, which is likely related to how stars with stripped hydrogen layers explode. However, astronomers do not understand the details of this yet and will continue to study this possibility.

A paper describing these results appeared in the June 1, 2020, issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The authors of the study are Kazimierz Borkowski, Stephen Reynolds, and William Miltich, all of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Reference: “Fast Blast Wave and Ejecta in the Young Core-collapse Supernova Remnant MSH 15-52/RCW 89” by Kazimierz J. Borkowski, Stephen P. Reynolds and William Miltich, 29 May 2021, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab91c0

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

39 Comments on "Astronomers Capture Cosmic Hand Hitting a Wall – Watch Blast Wave Moving at 9 Million MPH"

  1. sassanmotamdi | June 29, 2021 at 7:05 am | Reply


  2. The hand of God.

  3. That is God’s hand!

  4. Gladfarl Bidnell | June 30, 2021 at 9:41 pm | Reply

    It’s like a space creature is getting slapped around by a mildly upset god. That, or HP Lovecraft was actually right about the old ones…

  5. No. It actually looks like the Shroud of Turin, with the Crown of thorns and blood points. A beard, that is wavy. Two pin points in the eye sockets. And a Portal of White, bluish energy coming out of the mouth!

  6. Peter M Foster | July 1, 2021 at 2:08 pm | Reply

    Pretty cool stuff right? Think about the formation of a snowflake, and the expansion of one of its six sides as it forms its radius within such limits as its environment, then look at how one of its tangents would be related to the others and what would be required to push through the square root of its orbit to extend and form that perfect self sustaining linear architecture… a nuclear anatomy. Look at the proton now and examine its rotation and detail the construction associated with the creation of its centrifugal energy, a neutron, through which the sun shines. The protons energy, the force, equal to or greater than the matter which is required to be moved so its structure can be manifested. Whoa… p(f)>=mass(delta), the wall the density of space outside, on the otherside, of our firmament, the pitch on the inside and the pitch on the other, our fragile existence. Hmmmm.m, hmmmmm,hmmmm/2.

  7. Pfft must’ve forgot to install the dlc pack. [Area Inaccessible]

  8. NOT the hand of god. Jeez people this is a scientific article in science based online periodical. No religious overtones- just scientific data. The images displayed are CGI. X-rays are not visible to the human eye.

  9. bruce h rowan | July 2, 2021 at 5:45 am | Reply

    Wait a minute, is that a hammer in it’s hand? Could it possibly be Thor? Wow!

  10. Jamie Lynn Gallegos | July 2, 2021 at 3:20 pm | Reply

    Looks like Jesus is pushing a face away…. totally looks like HIS NAIL PRINT … and WOW it’s forming now in the end times hallelujah 💗🙏☝️👑💜📖
    1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-4

  11. We have our own star’s remnants to worry about, and of course mis-information like this.

  12. Eternalprophet | July 2, 2021 at 5:29 pm | Reply

    Prometheus steals fire from the gods

  13. loOK itS gawds haND 🤤

  14. “There are more things Horatio, in heaven and earth, than man has dreamt
    Of in his philosophies.”
    (William Shakespeare)

    Excuse the less than accurate quote.

  15. Madara Uchiha | July 3, 2021 at 7:40 am | Reply

    This picture is old as hell dumb asses

  16. Does no one else see the face? For me it is hard to miss.

  17. Mark A Wright | July 3, 2021 at 6:28 pm | Reply

    I think I know that guy🙏😆😁〽️

  18. Genesis 1:3

    1:3 And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.

  19. Jesus Christ my Lord and savior is coming

  20. Jocelyn Andrade | July 4, 2021 at 8:00 am | Reply

    Cool. It is like a nod by Astrophysicists Borkowski, Reynolds and Miltich to all those comics of the hand of God before the big bang, only this is after.

  21. Yes i see the face ..Crazy

  22. The hand is in blue color…
    It might either Lord Shiva or Lord Krishna…

  23. Blaine weeks | July 4, 2021 at 9:28 pm | Reply

    Notice the commentary speaks of the North, when asked where’s heaven… Bible says heaven is located in the North

  24. Also looked like a fox with a dead cobra in his mouth.

  25. I really feel for you Godless idiots who mock belief. Unreal.

    • I feel for you air heads believing in your magical sky daddy. If it’s all real, I’d rather still go to hell to avoid eternity with a bunch of fkn morons

  26. 🤣🤣🤣😇😇😇

  27. Face or Two look closely.

  28. Psalms 19:1-6

  29. There are no real pictures from deep space, this is an impression of what it may have looked like so nothing to get excited about, much like a hand drawn picture in am old book

  30. Space Kyles. Cool; cool cool cool.

  31. Yeah “god” is just out there creating dust hands in space… not giving a damn about any of you. Old picture just like you old bags

    • Lol, what is it you get from mocking other’s beliefs? Just curious.. & before you start to make assumptions about me, I’m not religious at all. Although, I do have family and loved ones who practice their respective faiths. I try to enlighten and open their minds to other possibilities, at times. But to straight up talk down to someone who is, essentially, just looking for a sense of peace and purpose? We get it, you’re edgy. You think you’re Rick Mf Sanchez, or something. Lmfao, yes this picture and article may be a bit old. And yes it’s just a cgi reconstruction of how it may look, so what? Your opinion is not the only one that matters, my guy. You don’t have the final say. And to suggest you’d rather go to hell, if it does exist, is just ridiculous. Ooh, you’re so badass. Everyone clap for Tony, him smart. 💀

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.