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Umm…WTF is that?

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, W. Keel (University of Alabama) and the Galaxy Zoo Team

What is that green blob in this photo?

It is called Hanney’s Voorwerp. Does that help? (It means Hanney’s Object in Dutch)

No? Ok, well it is a long stream of gas (about 300,000 light-years long, in fact) that is being illuminated by the Quasar being emitted from galaxy IC 2947.

A quasar is a bright stream of light that gets emitted from a black hole. Do you see the bright stream of light from the center of the galaxy? No?

That is because the quasar turned off about 200,000 years ago. The light from it is only now reaching the gas stream and illuminating it.

The image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope around April 2010, and it has been a bit of a curiosity for a while. NASA has just released an explanation for what it is.

I could seriously do a blog made of entirely cool astronomy photos and it would always be interesting. Oh wait, there already is a site like that…damn.