Voorwerp discovery Public appearances Astronomy adventures Everyday life Comic book Voorwerp discovery Public appearances Astronomy adventures Everyday life Comic book

New image of Hanny’s Voorwerp (seriously)!

Last Friday, I gave a lecture in Dordrecht (of which I’m going to tell you all about next weekend, after my exams and a certain rock concert). André van der Hoeven, astro-photographer extraordinaire, came to visit said lecture and was inspired afterwards to send me this new image of my Voorwerp below. He showed it on Facebook too, where he also explained what he did. Over to André.


“Last night we had a great lecture from Hanny Van Arkel at the Vereniging Christiaan Huygens in Papendrecht. She discovered a new kind of astronomical object in 2007 using the Galaxy Zoo. The class of objects is now called officially ‘Hanny’s Voorwerp (HsV)’ which is a great achievement I think.

One hypothesis suggests that HsV consists of remnants of a small galaxy showing the impact of radiation from a bright quasar event that occurred in the centre of IC2497 about 100,000 years before how it is observed today. The quasar event is thought to have stimulated the bright emission that characterizes HsV. The quasar might have switched off in the last 200,000 years and is not visible in the available images.

One possible explanation for the missing light-source is that illumination from the assumed quasar was a transient phenomenon. In this case, its effects on HsV would be still visible because of the distance of several tens of thousands of light years between HsV and the quasar in the nearby galaxy: HsV would show a “light echo” or “ghost image” of events that are older than those currently seen in the galaxy.

I know Hanny for quite some time now and we discussed several times about imaging the Voorwerp sometime using my own telescope. Until now it hasn’t been done yet, but as I was working with some datasets lately I promised her to check to see if there were any images anywhere in other databases […].

I started looking in the datasets and found that the 3.6m Canadian-French-Hawaiian Telescope (CFHT), which data archive is being run by the Canadian Astronomy Data Center (CADC), had a set of images of the Voorwerp at a reasonable scale.

I decided to integrate the Hubble imagery with this dataset to see if I could get a bit more wide field view of the Voorwerp. The result is shown here, and I think it’s a bit of a premiere, because, as far as I have found, there is no more detailed image of the Voorwerp yet with this field of view.

Data sources: Megaprime data from the CFHT (0,18″/pixel) and HST data (0,05″/pixel).

Credits: Hubble Legacy Archive, CFHT/CADC processing: André van der Hoeven (www.astro-photo.nl)

This data was generated using the facilities of the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre operated by the National Research Council of Canada with the support of the Canadian Space Agency.

Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive, which is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI/NASA), the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF/ESA) and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC/NRC/CSA).”

Hanny’s Voorwerp (art)

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After my lecture in Bussloo this weekend, I was given this beautiful piece of artwork, inspired by Hanny’s Voorwerp. The black frame has a painting on it of the space frog, which GLOWES IN THE DARK! The first picture was taken with some lights on and for the second (which isn’t really a new picture of the Voorwerp) it was completely dark in the room. I love the idea and it is beautifully done too. Obviously I’m very happy with it and I spent some time in bed looking at it.

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Remember I was asked a while ago if the well-known pictures of the Voorwerp were mirrored? It turned out, it was this artist who asked the question. I’m in this last picture with him: J. B. Tammes. Many, many thanks again for this beautiful present!

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Lecture in Bussloo

Remember that Night we paid the observatory in Bussloo a surprise visit? And that they had invited us back to do a lecture session? Well that took place last night and it was a lot of fun. I think I may have given one of my best talks yet about the Voorwerp and Steven filled the second part of the evening with his very interesting presentation about the evolution of the universe and mankind.

The people in the audience were lovely. Thank you again for all your compliments and the nice chats afterwards! And also for the tasty local bread! Highlights of the evening for me were the (very good!) question this boy in the audience asked Steven; he wanted to know if Steven thought the evolution of humankind would have happened differently, had the Big Bang happened one second sooner or later than it did. Another highlight was the fact someone asked for my autograph – in our comic book! And last best: I was given a beautiful piece of artwork inspired by the Voorwerp, by the gentleman in the last picture below.

I will show you said artwork in a different blog. Thank you again, lovely people at Sterrenwacht Bussloo. We’ll be back!

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Top 2014

As per tradition now, here’s a list of reasons why 2014 was a wonderful year for me. 100 Things I am very grateful for. Thank you everyone for making these happen!

And the very best wishes for the exciting new year ahead of us!! Happy 2015!

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1. Celebrating New Year’s Eve with dear friends in Deventer
2. The (cold Friday night) visits to Sterrenwacht Limburg
3. Photo shoots in Brunssummerheide forest
4. And the many walks there too
5. Passing the first English exams
6. And later on changing courses
7. Visiting the dolmens, with Jan Willem
8. One day of snow (while we were up north)!
9. Astrofest 2014, of course
10. That I learned to look into the eyes of the photographer (for 3D pictures)
11. Rehearsing for Cultaverde 2014, with my girl band
12. Singing The Kissing Me Song
13. Being called back on stage by my very talented students, at the end of the school concert
14. Organising my little cousin Valesca’s first kids birthday party
15. The spontaneous interview for Radio Veronica
16. And an exotic appearance, in the Spanish Muy Interesante
17. The lecture in Rotterdam
18. And the one for ThinkCon in Cambridge!
19. Appreciating the ‘Don’t Worry’ song on the ferry with new travel buddy Julian
20. Matt Parker’s math tricks
21. The National Stargazing Days (and Valesca’s response)
22. The stargazing evening with my family
23. Catching up in the spring break and going out for dinner
24. The Achterhoek Weekend
25. Dragging a lot of stuff on trains for this trip, together with Joep
26. And creatively fighting light pollution on those nights
27. Giving another lecture, in PJs and flip-flops
28. Using Casper’s ‘scope to see upside-down hot air balloons
29. Teaching cheeky teenagers how to use condoms
30. Making an appearance in the book ‘Working Together Apart
31. And writing a guest article for the Huffington Post
32. Learning to play a few songs on my ukulele
33. Montreux. Beautiful Montreux!
34. Freddie’s statue and the Queen Studio Experience
35. The Sunsets and the view from the mountains
36. Playing Rapunzel in Château de Chillon
37. Garden Lodge, London
38. Meeting friends in the Prospect and the Union
39. And Annie reading my palm
40. Staying over at Richard and Yvonne’s
41. Wildlife Rocks in Guildford (with Brian)
42. My birthday (and first proper haircut)
43. Closing the Galaxy Zoo Forum, which was bittersweet
44. The last We Will Rock You in London (and the after party)!
45. The Eagles in concert (from very close up)!
46. My students visiting the Sterrenwacht
47. The many times good advice was given and nonsense was shared at work
48. Doing another Pecha Kucha talk, in Asten
49. Staying the night in that lovely B&B
50. And the wonderful double rainbows
51. The Ecology week. The whole of it!
52. Even the huge bruises I ended up with
53. But especially the boat trips and the things I learned
54. The stargazing weekend in Limburg
55. And thus our first anniversary <3
56. Speaking at TEDxGhent
57. And Lieven Scheire signing my copy of his book
58. The Space recipes contest in Dwingeloo
59. Working at Citaverde College for five years
60. Going for ice cream in Epen
61. Swimming at Callantsoog’s beach
62. The garden party at Erik and Johanna’s
63. The barbecue at Sjors’
64. Zoo Con in Oxford and staying over at Grant’s
65. Playing Hotel California in the middle of the night
66. The discussion with the Jehovah’s Witness at my door
67. Surprising Steven with the weekend in Schiermonnikoog
68. Running on that beach in the evening
69. That massage
70. Doing the Ice Bucket Challenge
71. Making music with Marcello (and writing a song?!)
72. Zoo Con in Portsmouth and the new people I met
73. Being in Portsmouth again
74. Talking in Kohlscheid
75. Accidentally meeting up with two colleagues in the hospital
76. Going for drinks with colleagues (in blue sweaters)
77. Seeing Interstellar and spending some quality time
78. The ‘study day’ at hotel Van der Valk
79. Baking Christmas bread (again) with Rianne
80. The Saint Nicholas poem Steven had written for me
81. Celebrating Saint Nicholas with Valesca
82. Doing a job interview – successfully
83. Catching up with my pal Graham over Skype
84. All the fun things students have said to me
85. Leren hoe een koe een haas vangt
86. Learning how to handle spilling tea over my laptop
87. The Night of the Night
88. Meeting the awesome Dirk in Deventer!
89. An interview for Radio 1
90. The march against animal testing with Joke and Anja
91. The symposium on open access in Amsterdam
92. Doing spontaneous science experiments with my English class
93. Doing an interview for ‘the Dutch Stargazing Live’; HNKS
94. Meeting André Kuipers
95. The citizen science conference in Brussels with Els
96. Christmas with our lovely families!
97. Meeting Lola
98. Not missing much of the Top2000
99. Radio 2’s DJ Jan-Willem Roodbeen mentioning us
100. Camping in the living room until the New Year

Happy Christmas

It’s true what they say: you can’t choose your family. If I could have, however, I would have chosen mine anyway. We had a lovely Christmas time and I have a lot to be happy about. On the 24th I still had a lot of reports to write (and I still do, but I made that first deadline on Christmas Eve), as it’s not just a holiday, you know. But mum also came for dinner and she liked the veggy meal I had cooked for her.

For Christmas Day, Steven and I were invited to a ten course dinner at my family’s. My aunt loves to cook (cruelty free too) and it’s always great fun. When I put my little cousin to bed and asked her what her favourite part of the day was, she said: “that you were all here”. She is six and she already gets it. Of course, I had also changed the radio channel, so we didn’t have to miss anything of the Top 2000!

Boxing Day, our ‘Second Christmas Day’, we went to have dinner at dad’s, who wasn’t going to do anything Christmassy this year. Ha ha. This game where you have to guess which famous person you are seemed a trend and so I crowned my dad King (Willem-Alexander). I also made everyone listen to Radio 2, which they all loved really. And Steven and I spent the nights camping in the living room, so we didn’t have to miss anything of the traditional marathon.

We took the Top 2000 with us up north, where we eventually saw a bit of snow as well. Steven’s parents had invited us for a brunch and I also went shopping with my mum-in-law. We told them about our plans to move in together next year, before we headed back south again to spend the last hours of this year in ‘our’ home in Heerlen.

Here are a few moments of this holiday so far. I hope you had a lovely time too. And I wish this time of year would last a little bit longer…

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No make-up #selfie with mum

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High Tea Dessert

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Presents under our tree

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Unwrapping them in bed (these were for Steven)

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Yay, plastic snow!

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And one very happy, yet slightly confused, cat

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My aunt Joke, reading a poem I had written for her and my uncle

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My uncle reading the poem

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Yours Truly, my cousin Valesca and my dear friend Anja near the fireplace

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The final dish of the day!

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Boxing Day at dad’s. Check my new necklace ha ha!

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At the dinner table in the garden…

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With my stepmum and stepsisters (dad took the pic)

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Dad as King

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All the other people we have been

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Snow!!! (During a short stop near Venlo)

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Our ‘bedroom’ in Deventer (we love this airbed)

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And we love the #Top2000 (especially this song in it)

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On our way back south…