Hanny van Arkel was poring over photos of galaxies on the Internet last August when she stumbled across a strange object in the night sky: a bright, gaseous mass with a gaping hole in its middle.
"It looked a bit like an irregular galaxy, but I wasn't sure what it was," Van Arkel told CNN. So she posted a query on the Web site of the Galaxy Zoo project, which encourages members of the public to join in astronomy research online.
Van Arkel is a 25-year-old schoolteacher in Heerlen, The Netherlands, not an astrophysicist.
The Hubble team is going to look at it, even.
The name of the strange mass: Hanny's Voorwerp. God, you've got to love that. It means "Hanny's Object."
Hanny van Arkel and out.
Image is the original that Hanny posted her query about.