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Hanny's Gebeurtenis

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: Because we were so delighted with her visit last thursday (see 27 Nov), here is a little mosaic of the high points of Hanny's Gebeurtenis (Dutch for Event, or Happening).

One picture shows Hanny van Arkel's sparkling performance (in remarkably fluent English) before a packed house. She explained how she came to participate in the GalaxyZoo project (via the website of Queen singer and astrophysics PhD Brian May). How, after classifying hundreds of galaxies, she suddenly realized that there was something strange with the image that she had just clicked away. How she mumbled the immortal phrase that precedes all great discoveries ("Hey, that's funny"), retrieved the image, and reported a bluish blob in the form of a dancing frog. The rest is history. To the wider public, Hanny is now the most famous Dutch astronomer.

Some diligent follow-up observations with the Westerbork telescope and the European VLBI Network by ASTRON and JIVE astronomers have established that Hanny's Voorwerp (which has now turned green) is part of a larger intergalactic cloud (orange), which is lit up by a powerful jet emanating from a Black Hole in the centre of a nearby galaxy.

Afterwards, Hanny was interviewed by the editors of a school paper, who then went on to raid the bowl of bitter-balls (a Dutch delicacy) that were served with the festive drinkies. The picture on the right shows Hanny talking to some unidentified ASTRON dignitaries.

Copyright: Harm-Jan Stiepel, Stefanie Muehle, Astron
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