In a new image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, high-energy X-rays emanating from the nebula around PSR B1509-58 have been colored blue to reveal a structure resembling a hand reaching for some eternal red cosmic light.
The star now spins around at the dizzying pace of seven times every second — as pulsars do — spewing energy into space that creates the scene.
Strong magnetic fields, 15 trillion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field, are thought to be involved, too. The combination drives an energetic wind of electrons and ions away from the dying star. As the electrons move through the magnetized nebula, they radiate away their energy as X-rays.
The red light actually a neighboring gas cloud, RCW 89, energized into glowing by the fingers of the PSR B1509-58 nebula, astronomers believe.
The scene, which spans 150 light-years, is about 17,000 light years away, so what we see now is how it actually looked 17,000 years ago, and that light is just arriving here.
A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
It looks so beautiful to me, I see this hand as water creating or showing energy.