The Blob from Outer Space (Earth Current)

The Hubble Space Telescope. Artwork by Don Foley.

Sounds reminiscent of an old 1950s movie starring Steve McQueen, but this blob is fortunately not oozing around Earth or terrorizing anybody, instead channeling its energies for creative rather than destructive purposes.  Discovered in 2007 by a Dutch schoolteacher, Hanny’s Voorwerp is a giant green blob that is producing new stars in a region of the universe 650 million miles from the Earth.  Recently, the Hubble Space Telescope sent back the sharpest image so far of this ghostly object, or “voorwerp,” in Dutch.


During a summer break, Hanny van Arkel signed up to help astronomers classify objects appearing in photos taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  On one photo, she noticed what looked like a blue smudge underneath another galaxy and posted the question to others on the Galaxy Zoo site where she was volunteering.  No one knew at first, but it was not long before astronomers were sitting up to take notice of this space oddity.

Hubble zeroes in on green blob in space

For all the latest science news, check out our twice-weekly news rundown, Earth Current.


About Cathy Hunter

I have worked as an archivist at National Geographic for over 20 years and particularly love learning more about our old expeditions.
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