A green blob-like object photographed by the Hubble Telescope on Monday led to a startling discovery. According to the Hubble website, the blob is “one of the strangest space objects ever seen.”
The Milky Way sized cloud of iridescent gas is moving through the universe and actually creating new stars as it goes. As pieces of the blob collapse, they create enormous pressure on a tiny area of space, which is forming young stars within its mass.
Even more unusual, the blob is giving birth to these stars far from any galaxy, which is normally where stars form. According to Bill Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, these stars are literally “in the middle of nowhere.”
There is a quasar lighting up the blob from the inside, which is how it is visible to us. A quasar is an extremely bright object that receives its energy from a black hole.
Hanny’s Voorwerp, as the blob is called, was first discovered in 2007 by Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch school teacher. He was participating in a project called Galaxy Zoo, which allowed people to sift through archived photos of space to try to find undiscovered objects.
The new Hubble photo allows us to see the object with greater clarity than before.