The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of a green gas tens of thousands light-years wide, called quasars. The eight green eerie clouds, or ghosts, go against the previous presence of quasars. Quasars are the most brilliant objects that have been found in the universe. The extreme radiation beams give the clouds their ghostly glow. Each of the eight images has sent out a quasar beam that reveals once-invisible filaments in deep space to glow through photoionization. (Photoionization is the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with a solid object resulting in the breaking up of that matter into electrically charged particles.) This came from a statement that was written by officials with the European Space Agency (ESA), that partners with NASA on the Hubble project.
Helium, nitrogen, oxygen, neon and sulfur in the filaments absorb the light from the quasar and re-emit it over thousands of years. They set off a unique emerald hue that is caused by ionized oxygen, which glows green and can then be seen by the Hubble Telescope. Quasars are bright galactic cores of galaxies that are powered by supermassive black holes. When the dust and gas falls towards the black hole from the accretion disk surrounding it, the matter gets to overwhelmingly high temperatures, creating a quasar that blasts high-energy beams of particles and radiation into space.
The quasars that made the eight clouds glow the eerie green that was seen through the Hubble Telescope have died out. The clouds have floated far from the middle of the galaxies they originated from and it took thousands of years for the beams to get to the clouds. The clouds were most-likely formed from a violent cosmic collision between two galaxies. Cosmic collisions do not just change the forms of galaxies, they trigger “extreme cosmic phenomena.”
The first green glowing space cloud was seen in 2007 by Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch schoolteacher. So it was named “Hanny’s Voorwerp,” which in Dutch means “Hanny’s Object.” When Hanny saw the cloud he was taking part in an online Galaxy Zoo project that wanted volunteers to classify over a million galaxies catalogued in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS).
A similar Galaxy Zoo project had 200 people search 16,000 SDSS galaxies for similar objects found by Hanny van Arkel. Astronomers looked at the finds and were able to identify 20 galaxies with quasar-illuminating clouds through the Hubble Telescope. The results will be published in The Astronomical Journal.
The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa’s, Bill Keel, said the glowing clouds are helical, braided and looping shapes and do not create a pattern when studied through the Hubble Telescope. This could give Astronomers a start into understanding the confusing behavior of energetic cores and galaxies. One consideration is that ultraviolet radiation produced by an incredibly large black hole has illuminated the host galaxy. Quasars are the most active galaxy cores. According to the glowing filaments, the quasars are giving off much more power than expected or they are changing extremely fast. Neither, of which they are supposed to do. According to Keel, there is a pair of co-orbiting black holes powering quasars and possibly altering how bright they are. Leaving him wondering what will be seen through the Hubble Telescope next time something new is found.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of NASA, ESA, W. Keel (University of Alabama) and the Galaxy Zoo Team – Flickr License
Photo Courtesy of NASA/CXC/M. Weiss – Flickr License