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Science

Hubble Confirms Nature of Mysterious Green Blob 140

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the send-in-kilowog dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In 2007, Dutch secondary school biology teacher Hanny van Arkel spotted something mysterious in the night sky. Combing through Galaxy Zoo, an online database set up to enlist the public's help in classifying galaxies, she came across a glowing green smudge of light approximately 650 million light-years away. The object, which became known as Hanny's Voorwerp (Dutch for 'object'), is one of the most mysterious in the universe. Now, detailed Hubble Space Telescope images and new x-ray observations presented here today at the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society may finally confirm what it is."
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Hubble Confirms Nature of Mysterious Green Blob

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  • by gomiam (587421) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:25AM (#34835822)
    ... the blob is, according to observations, a gas cloud who was irradiated until recently by a now dead quasar. The irradiation excited the oxygen atoms in the cloud, making it glow green.

    I think it wouldn't have been too much to add this to the entry.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:30AM (#34835870) Journal

      I think it wouldn't have been too much to add this to the entry.

      But unnecessary. Everyone on Slashdot would have read the entire article and found out anyway, right?

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:34AM (#34835912)

      .. a gas cloud who was irradiated until recently by a now dead quasar. The irradiation excited the oxygen atoms in the cloud, making it glow green.

      Well, that certainly sounds like a kink that I have not heard of yet. Exciting irradiation? With a dead quasar? Hmm ... maybe the necrophilia gang ...

      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        Which is so much better than boring irradiation from "living" quasars...

      • by fishexe (168879)
        If the mere presence of the word "excited" is enough to turn something into a sexual innuendo, I think that's a sign you need to get laid.
    • by ArhcAngel (247594)

      You don't want to make that cloud angry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SailorSpork (1080153)
      This is Slashdot. People read the work "Voorwerp," chuckled, and went on to look for a new article to try and fan an Apple vs. Linux flame war .
      • What are you? A Microsoft Fanboy?
        Huh?
        What?
        Bring it.

      • I read the word and wondered if Douglas Adams wrote the article.
        • by Poingggg (103097)

          Maybe you'd want to know how it's pronounced. The 'oo' part in 'Voorwerp' is pronounced like the one in 'door'. In fact, if you replace the 'd' with a 'v' it's just right. The 'e' is like the 'e' in 'help'. The 'r' should be a bit more rolling as the English 'r', but here in the Netherlands are plenty people using the (in my ears incredibly annoying when used in Dutch) English 'r', so when you take the first two hints it'll be good enough.
          (En laat die Gooise kakkers eens een fatsoenlijke 'r' leren, in plaat

      • "Hanny's Voorwerp" would be a great name for a Rock Band.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Not really, as English speakers in general and US Americans in particular wouldn't be able to pronounce Voorwerp.
          Case in point: Jason Voorhees

    • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:40AM (#34835966)

      You can find out a bit more information here [discovermagazine.com].

    • ... the blob is, according to observations, a gas cloud who was irradiated until recently by a now dead quasar. The irradiation excited the oxygen atoms in the cloud, making it glow green.

      I think it wouldn't have been too much to add this to the entry.

      ... the blob is, according to observations, a gas cloud who was irradiated until recently by a now dead quasar. The irradiation excited the oxygen atoms in the cloud, making it glow green.

      a gas cloud who was irradiated until recently by a now dead quasar

      a gas cloud who was irradiated

      a gas cloud who

    • by Tragedy4u (690579)
      Science, schmience! Don't you know this is the end of the world as we know it? Hollywood, H.P. Lovecraft and the Mayans predicted our doom. This green cloud is elder god Azathoth growing, and slowly devouring the universe. Grab your tinfoil hats folks, pack food into your backyard bomb shelter and call NASA to find out when we need to duck and cover!
    • by yakumo.unr (833476) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:13AM (#34836322) Homepage

      They leave out such pertinent points intentionally to encourage you to fill them in and score some easy mod points, instead of "first post" every article.

      I bet you'd find they even get removed if you submit with them included ;)

    • by Moryath (553296)

      Sigh.

      So little time to point to other green blobs [amazon.com].

    • No, no, no. One can clearly see that it's a giant bug with a huge pincer. Either it's made of green ectoplasm or conjured up by evil magic.
      http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/01/11/voorwerp/ [discovermagazine.com]
  • The summary leads me to believe that we've only gotten better images, and that we still have yet to confirm what it is. Am I right or wrong?

    • Title: "Hubble Confirms..."
      Summary: "...may finally confirm..."

      In the submitter's defense, the article is just as confused.

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      A theory, widely considered "plausible", was made last year. New evidence confirms it, making it more-or-less "confirmed".
  • by Kufat (563166) <kufat.kufat@net> on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:29AM (#34835852) Homepage

    Kirk: Bones, there's a... voorwerp... out there.
    Bones: Why is any object we don't understand always called "a voorwerp"?

    • by syousef (465911)

      Kirk: Bones, there's a... voorwerp... out there.
      Bones: Why is any object we don't understand always called "a voorwerp"?

      Kirk: Because Hanny is a hottie who found something any geek worth their salt thinks is cool, and she can call it anything she likes. Be thankful she didn't call it Hanny's BonesIsAPooHead. Now if only she were green...and had 3 breasts!

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Kirk: Bones, there's a... voorwerp... out there.
        Bones: Why is any object we don't understand always called "a voorwerp"?

        Kirk: Because Hanny is a hottie who found something any geek worth their salt thinks is cool, and she can call it anything she likes. Be thankful she didn't call it Hanny's BonesIsAPooHead. Now if only she were green...and had 3 breasts!

        Humble Telescope reveals all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kirk: What about the Quasar?
      Bones: It's dead, Jim.

    • Only the Dutch could take a word like "object" and make it sound so..... naughty.

      • by grikdog (697841)

        Only the Dutch could take a word like "object" and make it sound so..... naughty.

        Hairsplitting ("mierenneuken") is even more psychically formidable in tje urginal Dertch (slapping down wooden alien hand).

    • by fishexe (168879)
      Rimmer: Because if we called it "a time hole" we'd get in an argument and then crash into it.
  • "Was found to be a type of radioactive jello. A space mission with hamsters was expected to be sent shortly. "
  • Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:33AM (#34835898)
    The article also brings up an interesting point: since the glow is caused by radiation from a quasar a few hundred thousand light years away, but that quasar is not currently active, it means that quasars can die extremely quickly, in about 200,000 years if TFA is correct. That's a blink of an eye in astronomic terms.

    It also counts as physical evidence for black holes evaporating, which is good.
    • by wiredog (43288)

      It also counts as physical evidence for black holes evaporating,

      Or perhaps there isn't enough gas falling into it to excite it.

      • Precisely. Black holes can't "die extremely quickly" –they evaporate unimaginably slowly. (See my other replies.) They can, however, become inactive at the drop of a hat –if & when the accretion disc becomes depleted.
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Black holes can "die extremely quickly." BIG ones can't.

          Since we're striving for accuracy and all.

          • Heh - true.

            It's interesting to note how small they have to be, though: according to wikipedia, to radiate more than the it absorbs from the cosmic miscrowave background, the BH would have to be lighter than the moon. In other words, since the microwave background is always decreasing, all stellar-remnant BHs in the universe have always been, and are still (and for the next N times the age of the universe, will remain) increasing in size.

          • (PS –there's "striving for accuracy", and there's "trying to correct an error billions of orders of magnitude in size"... ! :P
  • Initial imaging of Hanny's Voorwerp by a wide range of telescopes on the ground and in space indicated that it was a giant cloud of hot gas.

    Excuse me! I had chili for lunch. Extra beans. Thanks I'll be here all week. Tip your waitstaff.

  • by olsmeister (1488789) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:36AM (#34835926)
    This is what happens when Cthulhu gets a nasty head cold.
    • Cthulhu does not get a cold. A cold gets a Cthulhu. In this way, Cthulhu is sort of like Chuck Norris. Now don't even get me started on the terror known as Cthulhuck Norris

    • At last, conclusive evidence that the Great Green Arkleseizure is the creator (or at least, the origin) of the universe. Now we just have to worry about the Coming of the Great White Hanky.

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:37AM (#34835948) Homepage

    I'm used to thinking about the fact that objects "out there" are mind-bogglingly far away from us, such that their light takes eons to reach us. This is a reminder that they are also mind-bogglingly far away from each other.

  • by NevDull (170554) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @10:38AM (#34835952) Homepage Journal

    Green blob in the sky? Hanny van Arkel?

    Is it not exceedingly obvious what it is?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Arkleseizure#Great_Green_Arkleseizure [wikipedia.org]

    I, for one, welcome the coming of the Great White Handkerchief.

  • Shouldn't that read "Hubble telescope allows astronomers to confirm nature of mysterious green blob?" Unless, that is, there was a really big upgrade to the telescope that has been kept secret!

  • Detailed Explanation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Waveney (301457) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @11:06AM (#34836218) Homepage
    For a detailed explanation see Bill Keels post http://blogs.zooniverse.org/galaxyzoo/2011/01/10/hannys-voorwerp-and-hubble-what-did-we-learn/ [zooniverse.org]
  • looks like a Vorlon ship to me...

  • I just opened my fridge and found a mysterious green blob. I for one welcome our all-powerful voorwerp overlords.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday January 11, 2011 @12:55PM (#34837692) Homepage Journal
    I'm just going to float this out there. It's not really relevant to the article, nor is it particularly valuable to any discussion, but the discoverer of the Voorwerp, Hanny Van Arkely, is absolutely lovely. Many 'dotters could probably kill an hour or two sifting through her images on Google.
    • by fishexe (168879)

      I'm just going to float this out there. It's not really relevant to the article, nor is it particularly valuable to any discussion, but the discoverer of the Voorwerp, Hanny Van Arkely, is absolutely lovely. Many 'dotters could probably kill an hour or two sifting through her images on Google.

      Not to mention, she's an amateur sterrenkundige [flickr.com]. If that doesn't get a nerd hot and bothered, I don't know what will.

  • This is obvious to anyone who has ever been around kids. A large green blob, it's obviously snot.

  • I've noticed quite a few errors in this article. Example : "Such active galaxies are also known as quasars".
  • Okay only discovered in 2007, but the latest batch of episodes were done after that time.

    I imagine the Professor proposing to enter "Hanny's Voorwerp", which is treated as an off-color remark.

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