News | 11.03.2010
Cosmic Curiosity Reveals Ghostly Glow of Dead Quasar
In a new study, the team has confirmed that the unusual object, known as Hanny's Voorverp (Hanny's "object" in Dutch), is a large cloud of glowing gas illuminated by the light from a quasar -- an extremely energetic galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center. The twist, described online in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, is that the quasar lighting up the gas has since burned out almost entirely, even though the light it emitted in the past continues to travel through space, illuminating the gas cloud and producing a sort of "light echo" of the dead quasar...
Image Credits: (header) European Space Agency & NASA; (left) WIYN/William Keel/Anna Manning; (background) NASA, ESA and H.E. Bond (STScI)