The Green Blob From Outer Space

It sounds like a title for a cheesy sci-fi movie from the 1950s, but NASA found a real green blob

By Gordon Tokumatsu and Julie Brayton
|  Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011  |  Updated 7:43 AM PDT
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The Hubble Space Telescope got its first peek at a mysterious giant green blob in outer space and found that the bizarre glowing blob is actually giving birth to new stars, some only a couple million years old, in remote areas of the universe where stars don't normally form.

The blob is so huge, if you were traveling at the speed of light, it would take you 300,000 years to get from one end to the other.

The blob of gas was first discovered by a Dutch school teacher in 2007 and is named Hanny's Voorwerp (HAN'-nee's-FOR'-vehrp). Voorwerp is Dutch for object.

One Hubble picture shows two galaxies who likely collided, to create a giant black hole. The hole then created a quasar, which lit the blob up, allowing the green, billowing cloud to be seen.

Astronomers at Griffith Observatory think the blob is made of gas, and could give scientists a glimpse of where stars come from.

"All we were really seeing was this glowing gas sitting in what appeared to be kind of the space around this galaxy, but now the big result that's being reported on at the meetings is that they found some stars forming inside that gas, and that's very exciting," according to Laura Danly, Curator of the Griffith Observatory.

Exciting, but not dangerous.

The blob is 650 million light years away, and they young stars shown in the photo being born are already half-a-billion years old. It's taken that long for the light to reach Earth.

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