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. Tommy

    ...So, the this thing is 300,000 miles long, and comparable in size to the Milky Way Galaxy. Seems to me the MWG is 100,000 LIGHT Years across, which if my math serves me correctly, is WAaaaaaaaaaaaay more than 300,000 miles. By comparison, the moon is 250,000 miles from the earth. Science editors/proof readers, please do your jobs !!

    January 11, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Math-wiz

      I don't know Tommy... it seems to me that your math is a little off. By my calculations there should be atleast 4 more "a"s in your "WAaaaaaaaaaaaay". But I guess if miles and Light-Years are about the same to this author, then a few more "a"s doesn't make much of a difference.

      January 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      What ever gave you the idea CNN even has science editors/proofreaders? Not reading this article, surely.

      January 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. H.T. Duck

    You know what this is? It's the Nexus of Sominus.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cieje Valentine

    Looks like a giant galactic snot pile...

    January 11, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. MikeofLA

    The Voorwerp is part of a 300,000-mile-long stream of gas... you do mean LIGHT YEARS correct?

    January 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cliff Vegas

      I think we can surmise that... the "hole" has a relative diameter of 16,000 ly.

      January 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Drill


    January 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Texas Pete

    Mistaking this thing for 300,000 miles long is like mistaking the US national debt is $2.39 (less then a gallon of gas)

    January 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lenny

    Should have cleaned the telescope lens.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hawkechik

    Ignoring for the moment the error of 300,000 miles, the name "Hanny's Voorwerp" is just full of win.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ironbadge

    "The Voorwerp is part of a 300,000-mile-long stream of gas, which is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy, "
    My Camry can reach 60 lightyears per hour easily.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Robbin White

    Agree with Texas Pete too. That's funny stuff, with a good metaphor about the national debt.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. xavi

    I'm sure the lochness monster swims through that gas

    January 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tyler Durden The Narrator

    That's no voorwerp, it's a SPACE STATION

    January 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tyler Durden The Narrator

    in all seriousness though, it's definitely cthulhu. The most ancient evil of our universe has finally reared its head once again.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Drew

    There was a time that reporters were educated – that time has gone.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. stranger steve

    I farted in space. Sorry.

    January 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
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