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.


Post by:
Filed under: Space
soundoff (469 Responses)
  1. Sic Rick

    Am I the only one that recognizes this as the planet eating doomsday machine from episode 4 of the original Star Trek?? The green glow of course is from the neutronium hull.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. BJC

    Can someone explain what is 650 million light years from earth mean ? what is a light year ?

    January 11, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Boston Pete

      A light year is the distance light travels in one year. Light travels at 186,000 miles/sec (the speed of light is a universal constant, the C of E=MC^2). A year is 60*60*24*356= 31536000 seconds, so light travels 5865696000000 miles in one year. Or, to put in numbers we're familiar with from our national debt, light travels almost 6 trillion miles per year.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nobody Special

    Horrible reporting.

    CNN's lowest interns must be the ones in the tech / science reporting dept.


    January 11, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      My thoughts exactly. They don't know the facts at all. Hubble didn't discover this—A woman from the Netherlands did on GalaxyZoo. They don't even understand basic astronomical concepts. I have a feeling they learned the word quasar shortly after they submitted the article for proofs.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Voldemort

    Relax, it's just my Death Eaters calling me to come kill that Potter brat already.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew

    The Milky Way is about 100,000 *light years* in diameter. A light year is about 5 trillion miles.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |

    I just looked into my shorts and found brown streak skid mark.....I named it too. Anybody want to look before it goes on Ebay?

    January 11, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Grim Reaper

    Maybe we'll get a closer look at this thing in mid-December, 2012

    January 11, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Darwin

    Looks like god blew his nose.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Maluco

    I kind of like the use of "Probably" throughout the article – At least they show that it could actually happen. Probably...

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

    ET is coming! Arrival date: December 22, 2012. In other news, you're all invited to a party on December 21, 2012. No reason. Just want a party. Just in case........

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

      I think you should change the party to the 20th ... last heard the world will end on 11:11 on the 21st... so, party might not happen... 🙂

      January 11, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. gmansa

    so there you have it people, this explains the dead birds and fish..

    January 11, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Justin Bieber

    Why would somebody name a galaxy after a candy bar?

    January 11, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Bellic

      I don't know, but I must say, I am a huge fan! You should have won female aritst of the year!!!

      January 11, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieber

      I know huh?

      January 12, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Drool

    What's Oxygen?

    January 11, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. AJ

    Looks like a huge space penis (seriously, its from the "undercarraige" point of view) like a mouse looking up.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Tomis

      Your right! Puts a new meaning to "Space Junk."

      January 11, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. StanLee

    The Hulk made a poopie!!

    January 11, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18