Associated Press
This undated x-ray image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, shows a cloud of material resembling a hand that was ejected from a start that exploded. High-energy X-rays are shown in blue, lower-energy X-ray light, previously detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, is shown in green and red.

Many have wondered what hand — if any — God has played in the universe.

A new NASA image might shed light on that question.

On Jan. 10, USA Today reported that NASA captured an image of star that exploded 17,000 years ago. NASA has labeled the image, which has been likened to an X-ray of a hand, the “Hand of God,” USA Today reported.

And, according to a statement from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array Mission, the hand is a pulsar wind nebula, which is powered by the star that exploded in a supernova. The remaining particles mix with magnetic field that causes it to glow.

“The result is a cloud that, in previous images, looked like an open hand,” according to NuSTAR. “The pulsar itself can't be seen in this picture, but is located near the bright white spot.”

"We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," said Hongjun An of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, according to USA Today.

Finding familiar shapes in unusual images — like seeing sail ships in clouds — is the known as pareidolia, according to

“Other common forms of pareidolia include seeing animals or faces in clouds, or the man in the moon. Despite its supernatural appearance, the Hand of God was produced by natural astrophysical phenomena,” wrote Tanya Lewis, staff writer for

Discussion on the image isn’t remaining solely in the United States, however., a news website for Alabama, said the “Hand of God” is being discussed across the world, including places like France.

“The image is being discussed around the Twitter world today,” wrote Lee Roop for “In France, for example, it is called ‘La main de dieu.’”

The “Hand of God” isn’t the only space finding this week. BBC News reported that a black hole is inching closer to a giant gas cloud. If they collide, which is likely to happen in the spring, there could be something for everyone to see, BBC News said.

"This could be our black hole's biggest meal in hundreds of years," said UCLA's Leo Meyer to BBC. "It might bring spectacular fireworks – and we want everybody to watch."

Space and religion don’t always mix, but believers don’t find many problems with all the developments that come to light.

“You can’t help but think of God and his awesome power and his omniscience and his knowing of where to put everything," said Jennifer LeClaire, an editor and writer for a Christian magazine to the Deseret News. “We’re in God. This is God. This is God’s body.”

Twitter: @hscribner