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The stunning image of the Hand of God reaching for the stars taken by the Inter-American Observatory

The stunning image of the Hand of God reaching for the stars taken by the Inter-American Observatory

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

About 1,300 light-years away, in the constellation Puppis, a ghostly hand emerges from a nebula and reaches out into the universe.

This is CG 4, a spherical comet that has earned the nickname “Hand of God,” which was captured by the Department of Energy’s Dark Energy Camera, which was mounted on the Inter-American Observatory’s 13-foot Victor M. Blanco telescope on Cerro Tololo in Chile.

The nickname “Hand of God” comes from the comet’s sphere’s resemblance to Michelangelo’s artwork, “The Creation of Adam,” located in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA

Comet globules are a subclass of dark nebulae known as Bock’s globules. They are isolated clouds of dense cosmic gas and dust, surrounded by very hot ionized materials.

“In the case of the ‘Hand of God,’ as astronomers have called it, its dusty head, 1.5 light-years in diameter, and its long, smooth tail, about eight light-years across, make CG 4 a relative star. ‘Bock’s Little Ball,’ As stated in a statement issued by the Observatory.

How did you manage to capture the “Hand of God” photo?

According to the observatory, the cometary globules were not noticed by astronomers for a long time due to their low luminosity. It was not identified for the first time until 1976 through images taken by the British Schmidt Telescope in Australia.

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Comet globules are usually difficult to capture because their tails, covered in dark stardust, prevent most light from passing through.

“This light is produced when hydrogen is excited after being exposed to radiation from nearby hot, massive stars,” the observatory explains.

The image that astronomers were able to capture may not be the same again after billions of years because “the intense radiation from these massive nearby stars gradually destroys the ball head and washes away small particles that scatter the starlight.”

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

How do cometary spherules acquire their strange shape?

Astronomers are still unsure how these hard-to-detect clouds get their distinctive structure, but they speculate it’s a result of the hot, massive stars that surround them.

Experts have developed two main ideas about their origins and forms. The first is that they could originally have been spherical nebulae that were later disturbed by a nearby supernova explosion.

In the case of CG 4, “it looks as if it is about to devour the spiral galaxy”… “which appears to be lying helplessly in front of it,” says the observatory.

A visitor poses for a photo in front of “The Creation of Adam” while attending the “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel” exhibition at Trafford Palazzo in Manchester, northwest England, on February 11, 2022. – The exhibition reproduces 34 Michelangelo frescoes from the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel as they are in their original size . (Photo by Ollie Scarfe/AFP via Getty Images)

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credit: Ollie Scarfe/AFP via Getty Images

The nickname “Hand of God” comes from the comet’s sphere’s resemblance to Michelangelo’s artwork, “The Creation of Adam,” located in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

In his painting, Michelangelo placed God floating in space and Adam on a surface of green tones that could be associated with Earth. One of the distinctive details of the work is the hands of Adam and God, which do not touch each other, but rather define the axis of the composition.

But in fact, the shape of this cometary ball, which is more than 100 million light-years away, is due to a “serendipitous alignment,” the observatory says.

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