This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor’s Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor’s Helmet is about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble’s center sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the nebula is located about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Canis Major. The sharp image, made using broadband and narrowband filters, captures striking details of the nebula’s filamentary structures. It shows off a blue-green color from strong emission due to oxygen atoms in the glowing gas. SOURCE
Sky Rider by Justin Douglas Blackford
I soar aloft the sky
And see what lies below.
I create the clatter
That comes with the lightning.
I am the bane of thurses,
Trolls, tyrants, and chaos.
I destroy disorder
And halt the dark forces.
I ride to bring the rain,
Making red clouds above.
I was, am, and will be
Always in the Nine Worlds.
Thor’s Helmet gets its glow from the massive unstable star WR7, a so-called “Wolf-Rayet” star which ejects much of its gaseous outer layers into space at speeds of up to 2,000 km/s. The ejected material from the star runs into the slower-moving gas floating between the stars. The collision excites the surrounding gas and causes it to emit light.
Wolf-Rayet stars are massive, fast-burning, and short-lived stars on their way to exploding as a supernovae. This phase of the star’s life only lasts briefly, which means Wolf-Rayet stars are quite rare. Only 150 have been discovered in the Milky Way.
The interstellar gas in and around this nebula is chemically enriched by the entrails of the Wolf-Rayet star. The rich blue-green color of the nebula comes from ionized oxygen ejected by the star. The reddish-pink color comes from excited hydrogen gas from the star and in the interstellar medium. Continue reading HERE.
Thor in the Cosmos
Mjöllnir: Thor’s Short-Handled Hammer
Recently we have shown that by comparing the classical constellations with eddic myths many figures of the myths can be identified. By investigating the Völundarkvida it was possible to find the sword of Völund in Nidud’s possession. The sword is the brightest star of the northern starry sky, Arcturus. Nidud is depicted as the herdsman Böotes. Surely it’s possible to equate Surtur holding Frey’s sword with Böotes and Arcturus as well. We also find the maiden Bödhild as the constellation Virgo bearing the golden ear of grain that can be seen in the northern myth either as a twig called mistiltein or as a golden ring. Continue reading HERE.
Thor’s Iron Glove: Járnglófar/Járngreipr
The head of Cetus is near to the Pleiades and to the constellation Taurus and explains perfectly why Thor needs it to hold the hammer Mjölnir.
In addition this asterism can explain some obscure details in other stories. In Skáldskaparmál Thor uses in his fight with Geirröd not his hammer to smash the giant but the glove Járngreipr to throw back a piece of hot iron. I assume the story describes the rising of the head of Cetus and the setting of Böotes (Geirröd) and the bright star Arcturus (the hot piece of iron). The tongs Geirrödr is using could be the claws of Scorpio, the iron pillar he is hiding behind is the Milky Way in the Sagittarius/Scorpio region. SOURCE
A Marriage Made in Heaven: Thor as the Bride of Thrym
Thrymskvida, the story of how Thor’s hammer Mjöllnir was stolen by the giant (thurs) Thrym and how he rescued it by disguising himself as a bride pretending to be Freyja and finally smashing Thrym with his hammer, is one of the most famous Eddic poems. It seems to be one of the oldest poems handed down to us. Nevertheless it puzzled scholars due to its content. Most see it as a genuine pre-christian poem, whereas others suspect it to be a christian parody as they find it hard to believe that one of the highest Germanic gods would have allowed himself to be dressed as a bride. See the Thrymskvida Study Guide for details.
In the case of Thrymskvida, it may be fruitful to assume an astral background of the Eddic story. As I already discussed in the essay Mjöllnir – Thor’s short handled hammer it seems to be possible to connect the hammer Mjöllnir with the asterism of the Pleiades, a part of the constellation Taurus. Indeed this asterism has the shape of a hammer with a short handle. Therefore in an astronomical context the poem would describe how the asterism of the Pleiades disappears at the western horizon and how it reappears in the east. Continue reading HERE.