Photo credit: Astro Melina via RT
Ever since NASA and ESA gave the public access to its Hubble Space Telescope archives, amateur astronomers have come across some magnificent photographs that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, like this image of an asteroid crossing in front of the Crab Nebula. Melina Thévenot found this image while searching through the archives. However, the asteroid wasn’t spotted until different versions of a 2005 image of the Crab Nebula were processed, combining views taken in blue, green and red filters. Read more for a video about the Crab Nebula and additional information.
The Crab Nebula, also known as Messier 1 or M1, is basically the expanding remnant of a supernova explosion that was first observed by astronomers in 1054. You can still see the rapidly spinning neutron star left behind after the explosion at the center of the image.
Now that volunteers have perused the platform to spot and mark asteroid trails, it is astronomers’ turn to get to work. Knowing the date and time when the Hubble images were taken, they can use the trails marked in the pictures to infer asteroids’ positions and velocities. This means they can determine the orbits and future trajectories of known and previously unknown asteroids with greater precision than before,” said the ESA.