Spectacular image of 'Hand of God' reaching for stars captured by Inter-American Observatory

On the fourth day, the Bible says, “God created two great lights: the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night. He also made the stars.” Millions of years later, a telescope captured the silhouette of the 'hand of God' reaching the stars.

About 1,300 light-years away, in the constellation Puppis, a ghostly arm appears to reach out into space from a nebula.

This is CG 4, nicknamed the “Hand of God,” captured by the Department of Energy's Dark Energy Camera, a 13-foot Victor M. The Blanco telescope is mounted on the Inter-American Observatory of Cerro Tololo in Chile.

The nickname “Hand of God” comes from the comet's globule's resemblance to Michelangelo's work of art, 'The Creation of Adam', which is located in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

debt: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA

Cometary globules are a subset of dark nebulae known as Boke globules. They are isolated clouds of dense cosmic gas and dust, surrounded by extremely hot, ionized material.

“In the case of the 'Hand of God,' as astronomers have nicknamed it, its dusty head, 1.5 light-years in diameter, and its long, wispy tail, about eight light-years long, make CG 4 a relatively small Boke globule,” says a statement from the lab.

How did you manage to capture 'Hand of God'?

According to the lab, cometary globules have long been overlooked by astronomers due to their low luminosity. It wasn't until 1976 that they were first identified from images taken by the British Schmidt Telescope in Australia.

Comet spheres are usually difficult to capture because their tails are shrouded in dark stardust, blocking most light from passing through.

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“This light is produced when hydrogen is excited after being hit by radiation from nearby hot and massive stars,” the lab explains.

The picture the astronomers were able to capture will not be the same again for billions of years, as “the intense radiation produced by these massive neighboring stars gradually destroys the head of the globe, sweeping away the tiny particles that scatter the starlight”.

However, astronomers suggest that CG 4 contains enough gas to fuel the active formation of many new solar-sized stars.

How do comet globules get their unique shape?

Astronomers still don't know how these elusive clouds get their characteristic structure, but they speculate that they are the result of the hot, massive stars that surround them.

Experts have developed two main ideas about their origin and forms. First, they may have originally been globular nebulae that were later disturbed by the explosion of a nearby supernova.

As for CG 4, the observatory states that “the vortex appears to be engulfing the galaxy…”” which is quite helplessly placed in front of it.”

A visitor poses for a photo in front of 'The Creation of Adam' during the 'Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel' exhibition at Trafford Palazzo in Manchester, northwest England, on February 11, 2022. – The exhibition recreates 34 of Michelangelo's ceiling paintings. The Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, shown in their original size. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

debt: OLI SCARF/AFP via Getty Images

The nickname 'Hand of God' comes from the comet's globule's resemblance to Michelangelo's 'Creation of Adam', which is located in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

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In his painting, Michelangelo placed God floating in space and Adam on a surface of earthy green tones. A characteristic detail of creation is the hands of both Adam and God, which do not touch each other, but represent the axis of composition.

But in fact, the shape of this comet's spheroid, a hundred million light-years away, is due to “an accidental alignment,” he says.

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Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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