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Astronomers Solve the Mystery of 'Hanny's Voorwerp'

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the do-not-look-directly-into-the-quasar dept.

Space 123

KentuckyFC writes "In 2007, a Dutch school teacher named Hanny van Arkel discovered a huge blob of green-glowing gas while combing though images to classify galaxies. Hanny's Voorwerp (meaning Hanny's object in Dutch) is astounding because astronomers have never seen anything like it. Although galactic in scale, it is clearly not a galaxy because it does not contain any stars. That raises an obvious question: what is causing the gas to glow? Now a new survey of the region of sky seems to have solved the problem. The Voorwerp lies close to a spiral galaxy which astronomers now say hides a massive black hole at its center. The infall of matter into the black hole generates a cone of radiation emitted in a specific direction. The great cloud of gas that is Hanny's Voorwerp just happens to be in the firing line, ionizing the gas and causing it to glow green. That lays to rest an earlier theory that the cloud was reflecting an echo of light from a short galactic flare up that occurred 10,000 years ago. It also explains why Voorwerps are so rare: these radiation cones are highly directional so only occasionally do unlucky gas clouds get caught in the crossfire."

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What doea a voorwerp look like? (5, Informative)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691260)

Re:What doea a voorwerp look like? (2, Funny)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691272)

There's a preview button for a reason dipshit.

Re:What doea a voorwerp look like? (2, Funny)

severoon (536737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692510)

It's a shame that it's not a galaxy-sized, warm incandescent light.

Fluorescent light is so not-flattering for us here on Earth. :-/

Re:What does a voorwerp look like? (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691392)

Kermit the frog . . . is that you?

Re:What does a voorwerp look like? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691760)

As a baby. It's his mother holding... oh shit, she dropped him! Look behind her...

Re:What does a voorwerp look like? (2, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692662)

I thought a voorwerp was a Klingon sex toy. My bad... :-}

Re:What does a voorwerp look like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32692706)

It's not that easy~ Bein green~

Re:What does a voorwerp look like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32694016)

Kermit the frog . . . is that you?

No, instead of actually dying Jim Henson is becoming a being of pure mental energy, this is his "Star Child" form his subconscious mind chose to become while in transition.

Re:What doea a voorwerp look like? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691586)

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Re:What doea a voorwerp look like? (1)

phozz bare (720522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691872)

Don't Panic!

You look like a voorwerp! (2, Interesting)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692612)

Technically, "voorwerp" is simply a dutch word meaning "object", so, while you could say that "looks like a voorwerp," technically, so does this car [wikipedia.org] , or this shell [wikipedia.org] .

Of course, it is possible that "voorwerp" will now enter the English language as a word meaning "illuminated intergalactic dust cloud", but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? :)

Re:You look like a voorwerp! (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693224)

> Of course, it is possible that "voorwerp" will now enter the English language as a word meaning "illuminated intergalactic dust cloud", but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? :)

That would be horrible! I try to leave that horrible language behind me AND IT HAUNTS MEEEE!

Re:You look like a voorwerp! (2)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693516)

Either way, you have to love those Dutch girls, for showing their voorwerp on teh internets!

Re:You look like a voorwerp! (1)

pwolk (912457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694066)

Voorwerp indeed translates into English as object, yet it only refers to objects you can, say, pick up. A car would already be a stretch. A more general translation of the English word object is the Dutch word object. Using the first name of the discoverer and the word voorwerp for an object this size has a ring of understatement to it.

Re:You look like a voorwerp! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694342)

Every time I see that word, I just imagine the Swedish Chef.. which makes the post above suggesting that it is in fact a galactic reincarnation of Jim Henson all the more plausible..

what determines the direction of the cone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691280)

What determines the direction of the blackhole output cone?

Re:what determines the direction of the cone (5, Informative)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691330)

If memory serves (not always reliable before coffee) the radiation emanates from the poles, and actually comes from the accretion disk, not the hole itself. I believe that all black holes rotate due to the fact that they retain the angular momentum from in-falling matter.

Re:what determines the direction of the cone (4, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693182)

Actually, as I understand it, most (maybe all) black holes spin due to momentum both already present before their collapse, and imparted during the collapse.

You are quite correct about the jets, though. Here's a classic example [nmsu.edu] .

Re:what determines the direction of the cone (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695940)

Yeah. The piece of info I was looking for was the part about a black hole maintaining it's angular momentum, and apparently it's electrical charge. It is true that most if not all massive bodies have some measurable spin.

Re:what determines the direction of the cone (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691432)

I'm not an astro-physicist, but I do watch a lot of space-science documentaries. My understanding is that black holes spin, and sometimes two spin while also rotating around each other. Of course this happens very fast. The result [insert PhD-level explanation here] is a vortex which ejects stuff out of the one or two black holes at the "poles" of the action. Sort of like if the Earth spat out junk from the North and South poles. (Actually, we sort of do spit out magnetism at the poles, so it's sort of like that.)

So, I would imagine there are two jets spewing out of this black hole, but maybe there is only one. The direction of the cone would be perpendicular to the angular motion of the black hole.

Again, take what I said with the understanding that my knowledge comes from TV programs. Pass the salt.

Voorwerp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691304)

>> Voorwerp

The Swedish Chef is an astronomer?

Re:Voorwerp (3, Funny)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691906)

When you know Dutch, the summary sounds really strange:

It also explains why Voorwerps are so rare

Really? Objects are rare?

Re:Voorwerp (2, Funny)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691946)

Yeah, the plural of voorwerp is voorwerpen. Only Americans can find Voorwerps.

Unlucky? (5, Funny)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691308)

I think that such a gas cloud is fairly lucky to be lit up like that. Unless, of course, the radiation is somehow harmful to a giant cloud of gas.

Re:Unlucky? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691450)

Hanny's Voorwerp is classified as unlucky not because of the ionizing radiation, but because of the number of times it has lost powerball.

Re:Unlucky? (2, Funny)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691478)

Didn't Mythbusters attempt to light a giant cloud of gas?

Re:Unlucky? (1)

swalker42 (944794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691780)

Nope, that was just Jamie...

Re:Unlucky? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691530)

The harsh directional lighting does make it look kind of fat and lumpy. Plus, green isn't flattering on anyone, you insensitive clod.

Re:Unlucky? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691692)

Don't ion-taser me, bro!

Voorwerps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691328)

>> It also explains why Voorwerps...
I'm pretty sure it would be voorwerpen. By the way, doesn't this lady seem a bit full of her self?

Is it me or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691334)

does it look like Kermit is holding a torch?

Science! (1, Troll)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691358)

Damn, science is cool. The stories science tells are better than the stories religions tell. Not only are the science stories bigger, grander, more interesting, more awe-inspiring, but they also have the significant added benefit of being true, to the extent that truth can be known. When science doesn't know the answer to something, science doesn't resort to meaningless cop-outs like "God did it". Instead, science gives the more reasonable answer "Yeah, uh, we don't know what that is, but we're looking into it." And then, at some point, science usually comes back and says, hey, we figured it out, and the answer is awesome. The problem with religious stories is that the mythologies are too paltry, too thin, to small for a modern person. God sits on a throne on the clouds, but in the actual universe the heavens go way, way, way, way beyond the clouds.

Science is cool. Up with science.

Re:Science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691400)

*facepalm*

Re:Science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32692018)

What were you expecting from a guy named "Myopic"?

Re:Science! (2, Funny)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691506)

I don't know I think we should teach the controversy w/r/t celestial gas clouds and ionizing radiation.

Re:Science! (5, Funny)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691622)

Yes, clearly these are angels lighting their farts. If we refuse to teach the angels-lighting-their-farts theory of celestial gaseous illumination, then we will be depriving people of the diversity of opinions in this field. Why would astronomers want to cover it up anyway? Are they afraid it might be true?

Re:Science! (1)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691784)

I couldn't agree more. I am not saying that Angelic Flatulence Theory is incontrovertibly true, but there are some compelling data that support it, and until it is disproven I think we are doing a disservice to our children to deprive them of the full range of current scientific research into this phenomenon.

Re:Science! (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691976)

I think that we are missing a key element in properly naming this important new concept, it should be called:

The Intelligent Flatulence Combustion Theory of Celestial Gaseous Objects

That should be science-y enough to pass muster, after all, who can be against intelligence?

Re:Science! (2)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692228)

Due to an unfortunate gaffe with Find and Replace in the abstract of my journal article, I now refer to its supporters as Angeltelligent Flatulence Fartponents.

Re:Science! (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691674)

The problem with religious stories is that the mythologies are too paltry

Nice troll. Really.

But, to play purely devil's advocate -- if there truly was a creator-being, it would encompass all that is science, and wouldn't require the Earth to be only 6000 years old.

That creator would fall into the realm of completely unknowable -- it would be outside of what we understand of the universe, and capable of understanding and manipulating things we still can't fathom. I'm not sure the human brain could wrap itself around what that would really imply since it would be such a vastly complex and advanced thing as to be beyond our ability to perceive and understand.

When you get to questions about "what existed before the big bang" or "what happens after we die" or the other really meta stuff, you are outside of what science can comment on. Morality, for example, isn't really in the realm of science.

While not personally religious, I've known people with degrees in astrophysics who were quite religious, and had absolutely no conflict between the science and their concept of god. However, being Really Fucking Smart People with an understanding of the science ... their concept of god was correspondingly much bigger, and encompassed a whole lot more. God didn't need to be stepping into fiddle with the bits science wasn't clear on, and science didn't intrude on the bits that God was in control of. For them, there existed no dichotomy between god and science.

My notion is that if your religion can include all applicable science, it's not harming anybody, and is probably a good thing overall. It's only when the religion needs to deny the science to prop up its own viewpoints that it starts to break down. At a certain level, they do (and should) cover non-intersecting areas of endeavor.

Religion isn't bad per se, it's bad when it wants to override reality and is inflexible/oblivious to the world around it.

Science is cool. Up with science.

Well, yeah, that too ... :-P

Re:Science! (4, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691916)

The problem is that most people are not 'Einsteinian' or 'Spinozan' deists, content that 'god' is some amorphous force out there. Most 'religious' people believe in divine revelation, which is the source of all the 'paltry' conceptions of divine environments, behaviors, and figures. And of course these divine revelations are not limited to descriptions, but include many imperatives at odds with each other and with secular society.

If we can't know 'god', fine, the problem is most religious people think that they know god, know what 'he' wants, and feel that they are justified above any structure of society whether that is law, culture, or common morality (genocide is bad, except when GOD does it or people are commanded by him to do it!) to act on 'his' imperatives as they conceive them to be.

Deism is harmless. Theism is a deadly evil.

Re:Science! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32693280)

"deism is harmless. theism is deadly"

no.

people are deadly.

scientists generally lead comfortable lives. if you turned everyone into a scientists the world over, with the snap of your fingers, all 7 billion of us, then the playing field would be level, and that comfortable life goes away.

then you get to see 7 billion scientists behave much in the same manner that the rest of humanity has.

Re:Science! (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693688)

You're kidding right? You don't think the world would be improved by a sudden shift of seven billion people to a view of reality based on observed phenomena and testable hypotheses instead of millennia-old moralistic fiats from sociopathic mystics? Instead you essentially posit that the merits of scientists would evaporate and be essentially meaningless. Wow, that's such a good argument.

If everybody on earth tomorrow turned into intellectual and emotional clones of, say, Pierre and Marie Curie, I can't imagine anything but an exponential improvement of the human condition and the whole of society.

Re:Science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32694526)

Then they'd all get radiation poisoning and die.

Re:Science! (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694596)

Pierre Curie was run over by a carriage in the street. Marie was 66 when she died, which was a decent age for the time, cancer or no. At least during that time she won two Nobel prizes for her work, primitive by current standards though it was. That work contributed directly to the understanding of radiation that protects people today.

Re:Science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32692066)

To play Devil's paralegal,

God doesn't need to be complex/advanced to do complex/advanced things.

Omniscience/Omnipotence in the presence of nothingness is simply a potential. Once God acts on that potential, the rest would just be the product of emergent behavior.There could be a reality "beyond" God which defines the ruleset in which he created the universe, but we neither know nor does it matter to us.

- Anonymous Agnostic

Re:Science! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694144)

There could be a reality "beyond" God which defines the ruleset in which he created the universe, but we neither know nor does it matter to us.

So ... it's turtles all the way down [wikipedia.org] then?

Re:Science! (3, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692110)

Religion isn't bad per se, it's bad when it wants to override reality and is inflexible/oblivious to the world around it.

But who gets to decide? Buddhism: good, Christianity: bad. I can see some fundamental First Amendment problems here. So lets just keep them all out of the classroom, courtroom, and laboratory. Or make me the Grand Inquisitor and I'll deal with the heretics.

Re:Science! (1, Flamebait)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692970)

But who gets to decide? Buddhism: good, Christianity: bad.

All religions are bad. The fact that development of cultures often happened under the umbrellas of religious traditions, does not change the fact that each religion has an unrealistic superstition at its core.

I can see some fundamental First Amendment problems here.

First Amendment does not protect you from being called an idiot -- not even if government calls you so.

Re:Science! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694130)

All religions are bad. The fact that development of cultures often happened under the umbrellas of religious traditions, does not change the fact that each religion has an unrealistic superstition at its core.

I call it the Santa Claus effect. Small children can be bribed into behaving by creating a belief in a fat man who brings presents to the good children. Eventually, they grow out of this as they develop internal sets of morals. Back in ancient times, then people were largely illiterate, some means of proscribing 'proper' behavior was needed. Take the edicts against eating pork or shellfish. The wisest men of the village didn't know why these foods would make one sick. So even if they attributed this to some unknown phenomena, this certainly wouldn't do to convince the peasants. So they made up stories. And since wise men must know all that is humanely knowable, they had to create a set of knowledge not accessible to men. Hence gods.

Now, cut to the present. There are still people too immature or un-self aware to develop internal rules of morality, even as adults. So religion still plays a necessary part in incorporating them into society safely. The problem with religion is that those that need external guidance are exactly the people that you don't want running things.

A wise man (Adam Carolla) once stated that Jesus Christ is simply a parole officer wearing a robe and sandals.

Re:Science! (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695176)

But who gets to decide? Buddhism: good, Christianity: bad.

The people they don't kill.

Re:Science! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32692282)

Science has a stance on 'meta' stuff - there isn't any. Meta stuff is either make believe, or that particular branch of science is not yet developed.

Science also has a stance on morality. Morality is well within the bounds of science.

Re:Science! (2, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692362)

I quote one of my favorite historical figures ( strictly because he was an arrogant asshole );

"Fix Reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than of blindfolded fear." - T. Jefferson

Re:Science! (3, Funny)

jewelises (739285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693200)

But, to play purely devil's advocate -- if there truly was a creator-being...

I don't think you're advocating the devil in this particular case. :D

Re:Science! (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694698)

...if there truly was a creator-being, it would encompass all that is science, and wouldn't require the Earth to be only 6000 years old.

That creator would fall into the realm of completely unknowable ... I'm not sure the human brain could wrap itself around what that would really imply...

...I've known people with degrees in astrophysics who were quite religious,... For them, there existed no dichotomy between god and science.

I'm the grandson of a hardshell Baptist evangelist, a tent-meeting, laying-on-of-hands, speaking-in-tongues, rural Mississippi backwoods preacher. His son, my dad, believed as he was taught by his father. And I believe as I was taught by that legacy.

I was probably 30 years old before I first heard (and was completely shocked by) someone who said that Bible teachings trumped science.

Man, I tell you, I was floored. I had come from a tradition completely lacking in formal education that, nevertheless, accepted the notion that God gave us brains to figure things out and that if we found some sort of conflict between the Bible and the way the universe worked, it was our perception that was screwed up. Not the Bible. Not the science. The problem must lay with our inability to understand how the two are *never* in conflict. It's our perception that's the problem. We may mis-read the Bible. We may screw up an experiment and theorize in a faulty way. But we can learn to overcome those mistakes and, when we do, we will always find that the Bible and science never contradict each other.

In fact, to the folks who raised me, a "miracle of God" and an "amazing scientific discovery" were, often, pretty much the same thing.

In recent years, I've come to understand that some folks use their faith in God to justify anti-science attitudes. Some folks user their faith to justify spouting irrational, politically-motivated and all-too-often hateful rhetoric. And I've learned that such folks are far more common than I would have believed as a youth.

I'd apologize on their behalf, but I fear they might burn me at the stake.

Re:Science! (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693462)

Your nick is appropriate.

Voorwerpen (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691504)

Plural of voorwerp is voorwerpen (not voorwerps).

Re:Voorwerpen (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691762)

This is English. We make our own rules and other languages learn to live by them.

Just be glad we didn't make it Veerworp.

Re:Voorwerpen (1)

nielzz (822766) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692526)

If you are so Dutch, then how is a 'voorwerp' different from an 'ingooi' ?

Re:Voorwerpen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32693678)

The same way an object is different from a protest. Or something.

Re:Voorwerpen (2, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692892)

In Dutch, I'm sure that's true, but if this word were to enter English as a term meaning "illuminated intergalactic dust cloud", then it might well follow English rules of pluralization, as so many borrowed words do (e.g. "ninjas" or "octopuses"[*]).

The real problem is that the stupid summary treats "voorwerp" as if it really were already adopted into English with the given meaning. The statement "Voorwerps are so rare" is simply false, because voorwerp means object, and objects are not rare.

[*] And no, "octopi", while also an acceptable pluralization in English is not a counterexample, because it uses pluralization rules of a different language (Greek v. Latin), which is a distinctly English sort of thing to do.

Re:Voorwerpen (1)

mischi_amnesiac (837989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694052)

Well, it's not limited to english, it is also present in german.

Re:Voorwerpen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32694490)

English rules of pluralization

Children. Oxen. Brethren. We have precedents, so why not use voorwerpen?

Re:Voorwerpen (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693050)

If the word has been adopted into English by astronomers to mean "mysterious galactic-scale blobs" then the plural voorwerps is correct.

Re:Voorwerpen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32693712)

I was about to say this, it hurts my iers to hier dis ting biejing pronaunsd dis wee.

Re:Voorwerpen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32694068)

Don't push it, or we'll end up making the plural form Voorwerpii

1080p? (4, Informative)

WonkoDSane (951775) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691544)

Put horizontally and vertically oriented quasars lined up in a perpendicular plane on the line between the black hole and the Voorwerp and you have just created the universe's largest TV screen.

Re:1080p? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691896)

Better yet, make a whole grid of blackholes behind the Voorwerp.
Now find some gases that will glow blue and red. Now we have a galactic scale TV.
Also, block off the back side of it to recapture the particle streams, don't won't to piss off the universal FCC after wiping out a whole galaxies life do we?

In before hackers crack the stream and broadcast goatse to the whole universe.
Hopefully we don't offend any race that looks slightly like that... that's going to be an awkward first-contact.

Um (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691578)

Hanny's Voorwerp (meaning Hanny's object in Dutch)

explains why Voorwerps are so rare

I would have to disagree... "objects" are quite common.

Re:Um (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691786)

Apparently not in Dutch.

Re:Um (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691956)

Hanny's Voorwerp (meaning Hanny's object in Dutch) ... explains why Voorwerps are so rare

I would have to disagree... "objects" are quite common.

And I counter-disagree. Objects are quite rare compared to vacuum. They're just easy to spot because there's nothing between most of them except photons.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32693486)

Hanny's Voorwerp (meaning Hanny's object in Dutch) ...
explains why Voorwerps are so rare

I would have to disagree... "objects" are quite common.

And I counter-disagree. Objects are quite rare compared to vacuum. They're just easy to spot because there's nothing between most of them except photons.

Is that like saying "somethings" are quite rare compared to "nothings"? Although mathematically, to support your theory, if nothing truly is nothing then there would be an infinite amount of nothing wherever nothing exists. But then the problem becomes: how do you prove that any section of space truly contains nothing? Science doesnt quite work that way.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32693840)

And I counter-disagree. Objects are quite rare compared to vacuum. They're just easy to spot because there's nothing between most of them except photons.

If you start enumerating vacuums, there's one very large vacuum and several others contained in objects. Clearly then there are more objects than vacuums.

Re:Um (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695154)

And I counter-counter-disagree. Vacuums without objects are more rarified.

Re:Um (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695268)

And I counter-counter-disagree. Vacuums without objects are more rarified.

Your comment is composed of 100% win.

Re:Um (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693970)

Actually "Hanny's Voorwerp" is not correct Dutch at all. The 's in Dutch is used for plural form of certain words, not for the possessive form.
It should be written as "Hannies Voorwerp" if it were proper Dutch.
(the s is directly affixed without apostrophe, and as in this case the word ends in y the y is changed to ie)

Re:Um (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695136)

Thus explaining generations of New Yorkers who can't spell for shit.

Astounding? (3, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691682)

Hanny's Voorwerp ... is astounding because astronomers have never seen anything like it.

Is it really astounding? I thought astronomers see things they've never seen before all the time.

Re:Astounding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32691874)

Is it really astounding? I thought astronomers see things they've never seen before all the time.

Yes, and each thing is more astounding than the next.

Re:Astounding? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694070)

Is it really astounding? I thought astronomers see things they've never seen before all the time.

In this case, I believe it's actually an entirely new class of object that can be seen. Those crop up fairly rarely.

Usually the new stuff is variations on existing themes -- a new kind/occurrence of something, or more knowledge about something we already knew about.

Heck, it's the first new class of object I remember ever hearing about. Quasars, black holes, galaxies, stars, nebulae, comets, meteors, planets, asteroids .... sure. But I can't even think of the last time the list of kinds of things in the universe got expanded.

Re:Astounding? (3, Funny)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32694206)

Astronomer returns home from day at work

Astronomer: Hi, Honey!
Astronomer's wife: Hello dear, how was work?
Astronomer: Oh, the usual. An astounding object we've never seen before, and a couple of amazing discoveries, and this morning was a mad house, there was a huge batch of surprising observations waiting for me when I got in. I was swamped for hours.
Astronomer's wife: That's nice, dear.

Ob Dave Barry (3, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691746)

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

Re:Ob Dave Barry (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32692344)

With significant sexual connotations

Re:Ob Harry Carey (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695122)

How do you spell Voorwerp backwards, if it isn't already?

It's a galactic neon sign (1)

khendron (225184) | more than 4 years ago | (#32691836)

Advertising Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, apparently.

TMBG (1)

Green Monkey (152750) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692010)

Why does the voorwerp shine? (The voorwerp is a mass of ionized gas.)

Re:TMBG (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692090)

Apparently it's not an incandescent plasma.

I think I've heard this one before... (1)

st1ckybit (1697742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692328)

Just an ordinary gas cloud... but watch out, because that's no ordinary gas cloud!

Voorwerp Voorwerp Voorwerp (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692586)

What mystery? We hear that Voorwerp Voorwerp Voorwerp sound whenever that stupid police box appears. There's no mystery except nobody knows what the owner's name is.

Re:Voorwerp Voorwerp Voorwerp (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692792)

No, it's older than that - didn't James H Schmitz describe this . . . . oh, wait, The Searcher was purple . . . Or am I thinking of ST:TOS The Companion?

http://www.webscription.net/10.1125/Baen/0671319841/0671319841.htm [webscription.net] "Like a sheet of living purple fire, the thing flowed with eerie swiftness along the surface of one of the Depot's side streets..."

I'll poor myself a glass of Old Janx Spirit, (1)

The Altruist (1448701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692654)

and get cozy with my childhood favorite "How the Grinch Stole Gas Clouds, Star Systems, and Oh Zark, We're Next."

Crossfire? (1)

theelectron (973857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692878)

Just to nitpick:

these radiation cones are highly directional so only occasionally do unlucky gas clouds get caught in the crossfire.

So, if it is getting caught in the crossfire what is shooting it on the other side? Oh, you meant it was just caught in the line of fire.

Derp? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32692902)

Derp?

I've seen this before, somewhere... (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32693646)

As the candy hearts poured into the fiery quasar, a wondrous thing happened, why not. They vaporised into a mystical love radiation that spread across the universe, destroying many, many planets, including two gangster planets and a cowboy world. But one planet was at exactly the right distance to see the romantic rays, but not be destroyed by them: Earth. So all over the world, couples stood together in joy. And me, Zoidberg! And no one could have been happier unless it would have also been Valentine's Day. What? It was? Hooray!

No, caused by hanging single quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32694094)

The true problem of 'Hanny's Voorwerp' is the use of single quotes to enclose a name with an apostrophe.

"Dark matter"? (1)

GWRedDragon (1340961) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695024)

Perhaps the universe is really full of these things all over the place and we just can't see them? It would seem to be a pretty plausible explanation for the 'missing mass' problem.

How boring would it be if 'dark matter' just turned out to be a bunch of ordinary, super thin gas clouds?

Re:"Dark matter"? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32696132)

Cold baryonic matter was the first thing the astronomers thought of. Unfortunately, it does not fit the observations.

I know what it is... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32695110)

It's what's left when you actually have to detonate your Corbomite device...

...and a warning.

Did anybody notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32695726)

She's a babe with a voorwerp !.

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