The Ghost of a Black Hole: Hanny's Voorwerp in the News

3932_hanny_van_arkel.jpg One of the most exciting results of Galaxy Zoo is that of the mysterious ‘Voorwerp’ (Dutch for ‘object’) discovered by Hanny van Arkel. She posted about a strange blob on our forum and we have been hooked by it ever since.  The Voorwerp has hit the news this week as we’re starting to understand just what it is. We’re collecting some of the news coverage here:

We will update this as we find more. Hanny is also maintaining a much more detailed list on the forum.

UPDATE: Hanny made the headline on CNN
UPDATE: We made it to NPR Science Friday. Click here to download the mp3.

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12 responses to “The Ghost of a Black Hole: Hanny's Voorwerp in the News”

  1. Infinity says :

    This is such a great story for the project, who’s going to find the next mystery.

  2. Jules says :

    Great story! Look how far we have come in just a year!

  3. Jeff says :

    Just to let you all know, I had never heard of this project before the CNN article. I joined up immediately. 🙂

  4. scary says :

    … I am just feeling so inordinately happy …

  5. Bob Brink says :

    Congratulations to Ms.Van Arkel for her discovery of this unusual object. However, as a male amateur astronomer, I am concerned that my fellow female enthusiasts might be trivialized if naming conventions are assigned to their discoveries based on a male idea of what sounds cute or whimsical (think of the former assignment of only female names to hurricanes). Now I realize naming conventions vary, with comets assigned their discoverer(s) surname(s) and asteroids even given the names of pets or sci-fi heroes. But these objects are generally marginal trophies to a predominately male scientific community. Since naming grants the discoverer the satisfaction of a small degree of personal immortality, I hope she was given the opportunity of choosing whether her personal or surname would be employed. The 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics (radio pulsars) remains a grating reminder of how the contributions of even a female professional (Jocelyn Bell) can be marginalized by her male colleagues. In sort, I hope the choice of “Hanny’s Voorwerp” rather than say “Van Arkel’s Voorwerp” was her own & not one that was foisted on her.

  6. Joseph K. H. Cheng says :

    Congratulations once again to the Voorwerp Kid. Also, a huge thank you to the Team for their great efforts in getting Hubble time for observing Hanny’s Voorwerp. Such mysterious and wonderful finds are really good morale boosters to citizen science. Zooites, let us carry on classifying and contribute to science. I am already a sworn addict with over 850,000 done since July, 2007. Who knows what mysterious object will turn up in the next image ?

  7. Chris says :

    Hi Bob

    We did discuss the variations, including with Hanny (and – by complete coincidence – if I remember correctly very informally with Jocelyn who’s a colleague of mine in Oxford!).

    I take recognising her contribution and everyone else’s very seriously; that’s why she’s an author on the paper.

    Asteroids, by the way, can no longer be named after pets.



  8. Osama Saber Mostafa says :


    Here is onther mystery, I found this wierd pic took by satalite, it’s an unknown man. does anybody know him?

    there are two pics: Daylight, Moonlight

  9. Mary13 says :

    Congratulations, Hanny! You’ve made it also to the online edition of “Der Standard”, the newspaper I often read:

    Sometimes I wish I would have been the lucky one to find this object… However, I’m really happy for Hanny.

    And congratulations to the whole GZ team of course. too.

  10. Frank Miller says :

    Has the parallax of the ‘Hanny’s Voorwerp’ been measured? Has the red shift been measured? If it is about 3,400 light years away I might have a hypothesis.

  11. matt says :

    how did you see the black hole

  12. Jordan says :

    Chris just pointed out that the Voorwerp coverage beat “Brett Favre Goes to Jets.” That’s amazing!

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