Joined: Aug. 2007
This is what makes science so fascinating:
|A new class of cosmic object has been found by a Dutch schoolteacher, through a project which allows the public to take part in astronomy research online. |
Hanny Van Arkel, 25, came across the strange gaseous blob while using the Galaxy Zoo website to help classify galaxies in telescope images.
|Scientists working at telescopes around the world and with satellites in space were asked to take a look at the mysterious Voorwerp. "What we saw was really a mystery," said Schawinski. "The Voorwerp didn't contain any stars." Rather, it was made entirely of gas so hot — about 10,000 Celsius — that the astronomers felt it had to be illuminated by something powerful. They will soon use the Hubble Space Telescope to get a closer look. |
Since there was no obvious source at hand in the Voorwerp itself, the team looked to find the source of illumination around the Voorwerp, and soon turned to the nearby galaxy IC 2497.
"We think that in the recent past the galaxy IC 2497 hosted an enormously bright quasar," Schawinski explains. "Because of the vast scale of the galaxy and the Voorwerp, light from that past still lights up the nearby Voorwerp even though the quasar shut down sometime in the past 100,000 years, and the galaxy's black hole itself has gone quiet."
"From the point of view of the Voorwerp, the galaxy looks as bright as it would have before the black hole turned off – it's this light echo that has been frozen in time for us to observe," said Chris Lintott, a co-organizer of Galaxy Zoo at Oxford University, UK. "It's rather like examining the scene of a crime where, although we can't see them, we know the culprit must be lurking somewhere nearby in the shadows." Similar light echoes have been seen around supernovae that exploded decades or centuries ago.
Makes a nonsense of the "where you there" argument. I'm always surprised why more scientists don't use astronomy/cosmology as proof of an ancient universe when confronting YECs.