A strange image from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, taken during the 100 Hours of Astronomy.
A small, dense object only twelve miles in diameter is responsible for this beautiful X-ray nebula that spans 150 light years. At the center of this image made by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a very young and powerful pulsar, known as PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short. The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand. In this image, the lowest energy X-rays that Chandra detects are colored red, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are blue. Astronomers think that B1509 is about 1700 years old as measured in Earth’s time-frame (referring to when events are observable at Earth) and is located about 17,000 light years away.