The image: NASA this week released photographs, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, of a "mysterious giant green blob in outer space" that was first discovered in 2007 by a Dutch school teacher, Hanny van Arkelin. The glowing green stream of gas appears "strangely alive." The blob, which has been given the name Hanny's Voorwerp (Voorwerp is Dutch for "object"), is some 650 million light years away and surrounds a "supermassive black hole" that was once the center of a galaxy. Parts of the blob, which is the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, are collapsing, and the pressure is giving birth to new stars. But, these "newborn stars" are "in the middle of nowhere," says Bill Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, and they are "very lonely."
The reaction: The image of the green blob "resembles a poster for a forgotten sci-fi flick," says Jessica Griggs at NewScientist. If you grew up plagued by nightmares from watching the 1958 movie The Blob, says legal scholar Jonathan Turley in his blog, don't "run to your bomb shelters just yet." This thing is 650 million light years away — "each light year is about 6 trillion miles" — so it won't be gobbling up Main Street any time soon.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- If Democrats abandon immigration reform after Tuesday's likely loss, they will turn 2016 into a debacle
- What if Leo Strauss was right?
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The culture war finally comes to the Catholic Church
Subscribe to the Week