Hubble spies the Teacup, and I spy Hubble
Our Hubble image of Voorwerpje galaxies continue to come in, and it seems each one is stranger than the last. Overnight we got our data on the Teacup system (SDSS J143029.88+133912.0). This one attracted attention through a giant emission-line loop over 16,000 light-years in diameter to one side of the nucleus.
I was worried to get email this morning that there had been a failure to lock on to one of the two needed guide stars so that the telescope might have rolled enough during the observations to compromise data quality. Inspecting the data, it looks like we’re OK. We’re OK and the galaxy is strange. This is a composite of [O III] (green) and Hα (red), right out of the software pipeline without any additional processing:
Another giant hole whose origin is obscure. The loop doesn’t even show much sign of being connected to the galaxy. The strongest [O III] does seem to trace out ionization cones, as in showing from structures near the nucleus, but that seems independent of the distribution of the gas. There are filaments in the gas that are nearly parallel, sort of like waves. Well have our work cut out for us to understand more of what’s going on here. I can hardly wait for the next one!
There was an extra treat for me with these observations. Last night, I interrupted a session with my summer class at the campus observatory to look south with binoculars and catch Hubble passing far to the southeast, no more than 13 degrees from our horizon. This was during the Hα exposure, so I saw it while it was doing these observations (it was pointed just about up in my frame of reference, as it happens). I got a picture through a 125mm telescope, showing the telescope streaking by just north of the star k Lupi. At the time, Hubble was 1600 km away over Cuba. Hubble was watching the Teacup, I was watching Hubble, and a couple of slightly puzzled students were watching me.