"NuSTAR's unique viewpoint, in seeing the highest-energy X-rays, is showing us well-studied objects and regions in a whole new light," said Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR's principal investigator at Caltech.
These new observations by NuSTAR will help astronomers better determine the "actual" shape of the nebula, which can seem more like a fist than a hand, depending on what wavelengths of X-rays are detected. (See a previous Chandra image of this object here.)
"We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," said Hongjun An of McGill University in Montreal. "With NuSTAR, the hand looks more like a fist, which is giving us some clues."
The bubbling orange cloud the hand seems to be reaching for is the nearby gas cloud RCW 89, which is also being energized by beams from the pulsar, as well as the faster wind within the "fingers."
NuSTAR launched into space on June 13, 2012, on a mission to explore the high-energy X-ray universe. It is observing black holes, dead and exploded stars and other extreme objects in our own Milky Way galaxy and beyond.