Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What is Hanny's Voorwerp?

Credit: Galaxy Zoo Project, ING

Explanation: What is that green thing? A volunteer sky enthusiast surfing through online Galaxy Zoo images has discovered something really strange. The mystery object is unusually green, not of any clear galaxy type, and situated below relatively normal looking spiral galaxy IC 2497. Dutch schoolteacher Hanny van Arkel, discovered the strange green "voorwerp" (Dutch for "object") last year. The Galaxy Zoo project encourages sky enthusiasts to browse through SDSS images and classify galaxy types. Now known popularly as Hanny's Voorwerp, subsequent observations have shown that the mysterious green blob has the same distance as neighboring galaxy IC 2497. Research is ongoing, but one leading hypothesis holds that Hanny's Voorwerp is a small galaxy that acts like a large reflection nebula, showing the reflected light of a bright quasar event that happened in the center of IC 2497 about 100,000 years ago. Pictured above, Hanny's Voorwerp was imaged recently by the 4.2-meter William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands by Matt Jarvis, Kevin Schawinski, and William Keel.

4 comments:

Tommy said...

Looks like some frog floating in outer space to me. Would make for an interesting Star Trek episode.

Stardust said...

I thought it looked like a frog, too. Kermit hopping through space...interesting. Yes, it would make a good Star Trek episode.

tina FCD said...

Or The Muppet Show! :)

Greg said...

Was the constellation having a touch of - forgive me - gas? lol