Hubble finds ghostly object in deep space
In a galaxy far, far away: The Hubble Space Telescope has captured this image of Hanny's Voorwerp.
January 11th, 2011
10:04 AM ET

Hubble finds ghostly object in deep space

There's a green blob in space, but unlike a bad science fiction movie, it's not coming to take over Earth. Probably.

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of a green cloud of gas about 650 million light-years from Earth. It's been named Hanny's Voorwerp, Dutch for Hanny's Object.

The object is illuminated by a beam of light from a quasar that may have gone dark 200,000 years ago, according to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

The Voorwerp is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy and is part of a 300,000-light-year-long stream of gas, the institute says. The green color is from glowing oxygen.

What appears to be a gaping hole in Hanny's Voorwerp actually may be a shadow cast by an object in the quasar's light path, according to the institute.

"This phenomenon is similar to a fly on a movie projector lens casting a shadow on a movie screen," the institute says.

The object may have been formed by a collision of two galaxies, according to the institute.

But don't worry. It won't bump into our galaxy within our lifetime.


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Filed under: Space
soundoff (469 Responses)
  1. Robert

    I weep for the state of journalism as exampled in this piece.

    January 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jalcide

    Booo. Well, CNN no longer has a dedicated science category on its website, only seems to choose tabloid-esk science “curiosities,” and squanders almost every opportunity is has to speak with a respectful, intelligent tone on science events and topics. It will, however, pontificate for hours on why America has lost its jobs, manufacturing, innovation and academic ranking. Perhaps, the two are connected; just maybe, the societal norms of how science is perceived in pop-culture, is a hidden factor in how our youth are steered on “career day.”

    January 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bob the cat

    Are we sure that Voorwerp isn't the name of an alien? Is it the beginning of the end? 2012...

    January 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    So how many billions of our tax dollars did it cost us to take this crappy out of focus picture of someplace none of us can ever go?

    January 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evan


      You must be a sad person devoid of ambition and curiosity. When we run out of frontiers it will be a brave new world where bickering and one-upsmanship define us as a waring culture. Stay excited, John.

      January 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • blue

      Basic scientific research is not the first thing I would choose when cutting government spending. We have social security and medicare programs going bankrupt and $600 toilet seats for the pentagon that add up to 80% of the federal budget. NASA is half a percent. This is like buying a brand new car, then saying that grocery shopping is a waste of money

      January 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    My car has 300,000 miles on it. I will buy a new one and drive out there to see what's really going on.

    January 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jason

    It appears to be in the shape of a hand. Is anyone else seeing this?

    January 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J Von Hellsnicker

    Please turn the Hubble Telescope on the mountains of Pakistan and find Bin Laden before worrying about clouds of gas in space. Let's see what is more concerning to people; North Korea's build-up of nuclear missiles, Iran's nuclear capabilities, or clouds of gas that might reach Earth 500M years from now?
    Oh, never mind, the next episode of Bob's Burgers just started!

    January 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      We might burn them like ants with a magnifing glass.

      January 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evan

      Whoa buddy! SLOW down. Nobody is worried about it. If you thought fright was the best thing to be gleaned from the article, then you need to put a oil check on your fear engine. I think its more important to find meaning in this science (however poorly reported it is or not) than worry about one mountain-going, dysfunctional terrorist.


      Mister Sciencegivesknowledge

      January 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mikey

    It's gods fart, i know i am going to hell but hey look me up when you get there i will be selling snow cones and i will give you the first one free.

    January 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Craklin' Good Cracks

    "What appears to be a gaping hole in Hanny's Voorwerp actually may be (fill in the blank)________."
    A) CNN's journalistic ethics
    B) Sara Palin's sense of humor
    C) The 2012 Republican presidential candidate
    D) All of the above

    January 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Romulan

    Is that Klingon home world?

    January 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ChristianTrekkie

    Agreed: the author did not check his facts, read our comments, or proofread his own article. Agreed: the Universe is huge. Also I agree that the Young-Earth Bible guy is making Christians look stupid. I wish my brainwashed brethren would stop saying that the universe can't be more than 5 or 10 thousand years old. Nobody knows how God did it. They seem to think that giving in to science and accepting the age of the universe being over 14 billion years will somehow give the impression that evolution is the only answer. 14-15 billion years is not enough time for even a swamp bug to evolve.

    January 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RQ

    Jabba the Hut cut a fart

    January 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Onthefence

    I was going to say something about, which looks to be where this article was source from, but instead I'll jump on the bandwagon.

    Lets stop all science, funding for research, and peaceful efforts and focus everything on all our internal strife, human suffering, and winning wars. Lets never look into science again. That way, we'll never fall into all this war and the quality of life for everyone will skyrocket. Down wtih science.

    January 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tom mac

    300,000-mile-long ????? that has to be a typo ... do they mean 300,000 light years?

    January 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bambam

    Its a alien waste land that's were they dump there sh**

    January 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
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