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Dark Energy Camera Captures Stunning Image of “God’s Hand” Reaching for the Stars

May 14, 2024

A series of spectacular images have been captured by a Dark Energy Camera (DECam), revealing what looks like a ghostly hand extending towards a distant spiral galaxy. Nicknamed “God’s Hand“, the celestial structures are clouds of gas and dust. The DECam, installed on Victor M. Blanco Telescope in Chile, captured this rare phenomenon, known as a cometary globule, giving a glimpse into the depths of our universe. 

What are cometary globules?

Cometary globules, first noticed in 1976, have no connection with comets. These are dense, compact clouds of gas and dust in space shaped like comets with a long, faintly glowing tail. They typically contain newborn stars in their cores and are created by the heavy radiation from nearby stars. Cometary globules play a major role in the process of stellar birth and evolution within galaxies. 

What Is God’s Hand?

The recent images of “God’s Hand” show CG 4, a cometary globule found within the Milky Way galaxy in the constellation ‘Puppis’, 1,300 light years away. CG 4 has a main dusty head, resembling a twisting hand, measuring 1.5 light-years across, with a lengthy tail extending 8 light years. (A light year is the distance light travels in one year, equivalent to approximately 9.46 trillion kilometres).

“God’s Hand” appears to be reaching toward a distant spiral galaxy named ESO 257-19 (PGC 21338), over 100 million light years away. 

Though named “God’s Hand”, there is nothing supernatural about the celestial structure.

The captivating picture of CG 4 is taken by the DECam (Dark Energy Camera), a high-tech tool on the Victor M Blanco Telescope in Chile situated at 7,200 feet above sea level. 

Astronomers stumbled upon cometary globules by accident in 1976 while studying images from the UK Schmidt Telescope. These structures are tricky to spot because they are very faint and their tails often covered by stellar dust.

But the DECam has a special filter that can pick up the faint red glow from ionized hydrogen, which is present in CG 4’s outer rim and head. Although this radiation makes the cometary globule visible, it erodes its head over time. However, there is still enough material inside for new stars, like our sun, to form.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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