The parallels between deep space and the deep sea are many. Both are dark, both are cold, both are inhospitable environments for humans, and both are vast unexplored frontiers.
And both have odd mysteries that have cool names — Hanny’s Voorwerp and the Bloop. The Voorwerp exists in space while The Bloop occurred under the ocean a few years back.
The Galaxy Zoo is an astronomy project where the general public has been invited to help categorize different types of galaxies that have been imaged by a robotic telescope as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. In 2007, while participating in the Galaxy Zoo and looking at different galaxy images, Dutch school teacher Hanny van Arkel noticed an unusual object near spiral galaxy IC 2497.
Yeah, that blue thing — and it’s not Dr. Manhattan’s junk, either.
Turns out at first no one knew what it was, so they simply called it Hanny’s “object,” or in Dutch, “voorwerp.” Astronomers have now trained their telescopes toward the constellation of Leo Minor where it resides some 700 million light years away, and have studied it further, but still have no clear answers as to what it is. It’s not a galaxy as it has no stars, but apparently the “hole” in the middle of it is some 16,000 light years across. As it contains lots of hot ionized gas, some have speculated that it’s the remnants of a galaxy reflecting a quasar event that may have happened some 100,000 years ago. In short, it might just be a “ghost image” of some more spectacular celestial event from millenia ago. As the light has taken 100,000 years to just get here, obviously what actually happened is long gone, so we may never know.
If you’re interested in seeing more images or reading more about the voorwerp, you can also visit Hanny’s personal site where she details her discovery as well as talks about how it is to suddenly be an “astronomical star,” so to speak.
From deep space to the deep sea —
During the summer of 1997 while monitoring the waters of the South Pacific, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration repeatedly detected an unusual low-frequency tone through the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array. It rose in frequency and was able to be heard on sensors thousands of miles away.
Here you can listen yourself.
So what’s the big deal about some random underwater noise, you ask? The intrigue arises when scientists say that the bloop sounds as though it was created by some living thing — some ENORMOUS living creature at the bottom of the ocean. From their estimates, it would have to be even larger than a blue whale, the largest creature on Earth.
Of course, the speculation has been rampant — everything from a giant super colossal squid to the legendary kraken to some as-yet-undiscovered species. But the part where it gets extra creepy is that the coordinates of this event correspond to the location of the fictional city of R’lyeh from H.P. Lovecraft’s 1926 short story “The Call of Cthulhu,” which is supposedly home to the sleeping Cthulhu, a terrifying god-creature that is pure evil.
You may have seen Cthulhu’s image around …
Yeah, that thing. Possibly living at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to rise from the depths to smite an unsuspecting planet. Great!
For up-to-date info on The Bloop, you can try always visit Bloop Watch.