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“Hand of God” reaches out to galaxy – astronomers take spectacular picture – 2024-05-14 04:56:42

The “Hand of God” is a giant galactic dust cloud in the constellation Puppis. A new image of the phenomenon shows a ghostly red glow.

More than a thousand light-years from Earth, a ghostly hand reaches out to a galaxy. The cloud hand with the name CG4 is often called “Hand of God” and its red glow has now been captured on a new recording.

The team at the astronomy research center NSF Noirlab in Tucson, Arizona, announced that they were able to capture the red glow of ionized hydrogen in the center and around the outer edge photographically using a special filter. The light is created when hydrogen is bombarded and excited by radiation from nearby massive stars.

CG4 is one of the so-called comet-like globules, of which there are many in our Milky Way: clouds of interstellar dust and gas that look comet-like because of a kind of tail and in which new stars can form. According to the researchers, CG4 also contains enough gas to enable the formation of several new stars the size of the Sun.

CG4 is located in the so-called Gum Nebula

CG4 is 1,300 light-years away from us and, with a tail about eight light-years long, is rather small for a gas cloud. A light year is the distance that light travels in one year – a distance of 9.46 trillion kilometers.

Like most other comet-like globules observed so far, CG4 lies in a huge collection of glowing gas called the Gum Nebula. According to astronomers, these are believed to be the remnants of a supernova about a million years ago.

Viewed from Earth, the structure lies in the constellation Sternstern der Schiff (in Latin: Puppis), a constellation in the southern sky. The spiral galaxy that CG4 appears to be reaching for is called ESO 257-19 – and is actually more than a hundred million light-years away from the supposed hand, as the astronomers explain.

“Pillars of Creation” also reminds us of a huge hand

The “Hand of God” is, along with the “Pillars of Creation”, one of the most fascinating motifs that modern astronomy explores. Two years ago, the James Webb Space Telescope reimaged the “Pillars of Creation” with impressive depth, clarity and color.

This structure is also a massive accumulation of interstellar gas and dust. The shape is reminiscent of a huge hand.

Since the first images were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, the “pillars” have been printed on T-shirts, served as poster motifs and have even been recreated by Lego as a 3-D relief.

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