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Can you spot the asteroid?

By , 23 December 2020

An asteroid photobombed this shot of the Crab Nebula
Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Thévenot (@AstroMelina); CC BY 4.0

By Jacinta Bowler

The Hubble Space Telescope has been floating above us for 30 years and has made more than a million observations, so it makes sense that an asteroid occasionally gets in the way of a good photo.

For the team of researchers at Hubble Asteroid Hunter, this isn’t a problem – they’re using Hubble’s massive collection of photos to find and learn all about asteroids and the trails they leave behind.

So far, citizen scientists (everyday people who help scientists) have analysed 10 874 Hubble images and have found nearly 1300 asteroid trails!

One of the citizen scientists, Melina Thévenot, found the trail of the asteroid 2001-SE101 in a 2005 image of the Crab Nebula. She liked it so much that she processed the original image, creating the beautiful, colour filtered image you see here.

Can you spot the asteroid trail? It starts in the bottom left and travels up towards the middle of the picture.

This story originally appeared in Double Helix magazine. Subscribe for more science stories and activities!

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