Monday, January 10, 2011

Creepy green space cloud


A photograph snapped by the Hubble recently shows an enigmatic cloud of green...something in space.  
It has been nicknamed "Hanny's Voorwerp," meaning "Hanny's object" in Dutch.  Upon reading "voorwerp," I was helpless as my mind recalled Andre Norton's science fiction novel, Voorloper, but this appears to have little to do with anything.  The name comes from Dutch schoolteacher and amateur astronomer, Hanny van Arkel who first discovered the weird form in 2007.  The leading thoughts at this time are that it is a band of gases, perhaps even something of an interstellar nursery, kicking out stars.  Seems that the object was noticed due to the fact that a quasar, a powerful beacon of light emitted from a black hole, pulsed out a beam of light that illuminated the gaseous mass, causing its green tint to become highlighted.  But in truth, this illumination should not be seen as something that just happened the other day.  Given the time it takes light to cover distance, the quasar pulse occurred about 200,000 years ago.
The green cloud is part of a continuing band of gas that is estimated to extend about 300,000 light-years.  Just demonstrates the awesome majesty of the vast, beautiful region we call "space."  

Either that or it's a swarm of Galaga bugs coming for us.

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