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. dan

    So .... we spend about a Billion a year to see funny looking images in the sky. Well done NASA .... what a waste of resources! NASA is fighting for their survival and so they started a "campaign" to show off their importance. Really ...

    January 11, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead61

      How shortsighted. If we can tap into this gas field, we'll put the Middle East out of business...

      January 11, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • True

      Put the middle east out of business? I didn't know they were in the "Oxygen" business.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. publius enigma

    The hubble site says 300 light years.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. jibbers the pigg

    Here's Johnny !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mamabanga

    The Voorwerp is part of a 300,000-mile-long stream of gas, which is about the SIZE of our Milky Way galaxy? That mean I can cross the milky way gallaxy at 70mph within 209 days...seems like they have those numbers incorrect.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mamabanga

      179 Days to be exact... 😛

      January 11, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead61

      Sounds like the universe is contracting at an alarming rate.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. JMP

    Yeah, there's definitely an error in this article. The Milky Way Galaxy is estimated to be 100,000 light-years across. One light-year is about 6 TRILLION miles. So the Milky Way is little bit bigger than 300,000 miles. Just a little bit.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mamabanga

      Seems that journalist or editors don't take the time to use common sense. What kind of degree did they acquired.

      January 11, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead61

      uh....Journalism maybe?

      January 11, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. jibbers the pigg

    Oh, seriously, this is java works in progress.
    Beta version

    January 11, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Who dat ?

    Its the python from pythagreous

    January 11, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. Buster

    This is where the Green Lantern goes when he meets up with other Green Lantern dudes from other planets. PS. The math is bad, bro.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. irishcutter21

    This is a waste of money and time. The money spent on useless information like this can get our country out of debt.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • therm

      Are you insane? NASA's budget is minuscule compared to practically anything out there. Every year, the US gives other countries, just gives it out like candy, more money than NASA has budgeted for the next ten years, at least. Countries that you might not even like, we just give them money to be our friends. It sounds like bribery to me. Meanwhile, scientific ignorance in this country is increasing, as your post clearly demonstrates. We need more of this research, and the US jobs it would create, rather than less, thank you.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. this sucks

    This is just bad reporting... I want my money back!

    January 11, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Enlil

    The real space, I'm afraid, has replaced certain gray matter.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. mk

    This is a smudge from a bolgna sandwich left on their computer screen. Nice try though.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |

    This is a clear sign of Mother Mary hoding baby Jesus, I will print this out so it will stand beside my Jesus burnt toast, Moses cheeto, and Mother Mary doritos.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • kso

      ahahhahaahahahahahah! WIN!!!

      January 11, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Quincy9

    Why do people have to name thing? It doesn't need a name. It just 'is'. How much did it cost us to go, "Hey, I'll be darned. A big green cloud. Well, that's a lot better than feeding and housing people in our p!ss poor economy"

    January 11, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Michael Ritsema

    300,000-mile-long stream of gas... Man, it would take an airplane more than a year to get out of our galaxy!

    January 11, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Duy Tran

      But if you take an X-15 jet it would only take you 3 days.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
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