Illusions in the cosmic clouds

October 27, 2014 by Whitney Clavin, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Credit: ASA/CXC/SAO: X-ray; NASA/JPL-Caltech: Infrared

Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.

When an image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58—a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles —was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission.

In a new image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope in red, green and blue. Pareidolia may strike again as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISE's infrared data. What do you see?

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, also took a picture of the neutron star nebula in 2014, using higher-energy X-rays than Chandra.

PSR B1509-58 is about 17,000 light-years from Earth.

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4 comments

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drel
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 27, 2014
Q - What do you see?
A - An emu and a panda pole vaulting. (Not that anyone cares)

How about you stop wasting our time with crap like this?
Psilly_T
1 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2014
No one forced you to read it. You're the only one wasting your own time if reading this article annoyed you. It's not hard to tell which articles are about hard science facts and which are just to talk about a deep space pictures.
derpa
nEc
1 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2014
drel is right, this article has nothing to do with science and science is what this media/forum is about.
daqddyo
not rated yet Oct 28, 2014
Check the photo again after Oct 31.

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