What looks like an X-ray of a hand is actually the remains of a star that exploded 17,000 light-years away.

The astronomers who captured this image with a NASA space telescope call it the "Hand of God."

"We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," said Hongjun An of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in a statement from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) Mission.

Whatthe image shows is a pulsar wind nebula, a dying star and the cloud ofmaterials left over from the star after it exploded. The particles areinteracting with nearby magnetic fields, causing the particles to glowin the image, according to NuSTAR.

It's unclear whether the nebulalooks like a hand because of the way the particles interact with themagnetic fields or if the particles are actually shaped like a hand.

NuSTARsays the star is about 12 miles in diameter and spins at nearly seventimes a second. As the star spins, it spews particles "upheaved duringthe star's violent death."

The NuSTAR space telescope was launchedin June 2012 with the goal of observing black holes, dead and explodedstars and "other extreme objects," according to NuSTAR.

Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.

Read or Share this story: