'One Astronomer's Trash': Over 1,000 New Asteroids Found by Researchers Sifting Through Hubble Data
The lead author of a new study points out that asteroids are “remnants from the formation of our solar system”, and thus provide us with an opportunity to “learn more about the conditions when our planets were born”.
Over a thousand previously unknown asteroids have been discovered thanks to the Hubble Asteroid Hunter, a citizen science project set up to analyse archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope in order to visually identify such chunks of space rock,
According to a press release published on the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics’ website, the astronomers involved in the study found some 1,701 asteroid trails in the Hubble data from the last two decades, with only a third of these trails being attributed to the known objects, thus leaving 1031 unidentified trails.
"The amount of data in astronomy archives increases exponentially and we wanted to make use of this amazing data", said Sandor Kruk from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, lead author of the new study.
Most of the data that the researchers were looking for was apparently removed from other observations as "noise", with Kruk remarking: "One astronomer’s trash can be another astronomer’s treasure".
The astronomers are now expected to determine the distance to these newly found asteroids and study their orbits during the course of their follow-up work.
"The asteroids are remnants from the formation of our solar system, which means that we can learn more about the conditions when our planets were born", Kruk said. "But there were other serendipitous finds in the archival images as well, which we are currently following up".