This view from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope shows thousands of galaxies in the distant Universe. But the one close to the center looks very odd — it is bright green. This very unusual object is known as J224024.1-092748 or J2240 and it is a bright example of a new class of objects that have been nicknamed green bean galaxies. Green beans are entire galaxies that are glowing under the intense radiation from the region around a central black hole. J2240 lies in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer) and its light has taken about 3.7 billion years to reach Earth. (Photo : CFHT/ESO/M. Schirmer )
Green beans are usually found on your plate and not in the sky, but scientists led by Gemini Observatory astronomer Mischa Schirmer have discovered a new glowing "green bean" galaxy. The rare galaxy is just one of 20 similar galaxies that the scientists were able to find during their observations.
According to Space.com, the bright green galaxy is part of a range of active galaxies known as the Seyfert galaxies. X-rays radiating from the massive black hole at the center of the galaxy causes it to glow green, the report stated.
Schirmer, the lead researcher, said, "These things are light echoes. What we see is a quasar that is shutting down. It hasn't shut down entirely yet."
The astronomer first found the rare glowing galaxy while analyzing an image based on data from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Space.com reported. He realized that the galaxy's glow came from its black holes while examining the galaxy's spectrum of light through the ESO's Very Large Telescope.
He explained, "ESO granted me special observing time at very short notice and just a few days after I submitted my proposal, this bizarre object was observed using the VTL. Ten minutes after the data were taken in Chile, I had them on my computer in Germany."
"I soon refocused my research activities entirely as it became apparent that I had come across something really new," Schirmer added.
The radiant areas of greenish light, or narrow line regions, emanating from the black holes caused the entire galaxy to shine. According to Space.com, Schirmer discovered that the emission of mid-infrared light is five to 50 times brighter than once believed.
"These glowing regions are fantastic probes to try to understand the physics of galaxies-it's like sticking a medical thermometer into a galaxy far, far away," Schirmer told RedOrbit. "Usually, these regions are neither very large nor very bright, and can only be seen well in nearby galaxies. However, in these newly discovered galaxies they are so huge and bright that they can be observed in great detail, despite their large distances."
RedOrbit reported that the new discovery was officially named J224024.1-092748 or J2240. It is located in the constellation of Aquarius and it took 3.7 billion years for its light to reach Earth.
The green bean galaxies, named after their viridescent glow and superficial similarity to green pea galaxies, probably remain in that stage of galaxy life for a short period of time, Schirmer told Space.com.
According to RedOrbit, additional research by the team also revealed that J2240 had a less active center black hole than believed. The researchers believe that the glowing regions must be a remnant from when the black hole was more active.
Speaking of his discovery, Schirmer said, "Discovering something genuinely new is an astronomer's dream come true, a once-in-a-lifetime event. It's very inspiring."