December 2, 2022

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At least 1,700 new asteroids discovered in 20-year-old images |  Science

At least 1,700 new asteroids discovered in 20-year-old images | Science

Astronomers have discovered more than 1,700 new asteroids. How did they find these? By displaying twenty-year-old images of the Hubble spacecraft in (replay). New asteroids could once again hold valuable clues about the history of our solar system.

“Waste from one can be a treasure to the other,” said lead author and astronomer Sandor Kroc (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics). After all, Kruk began working on photographs that were twenty years old and still making a new discovery.

How were these asteroids discovered just now? There are more and more telescopes, more and more observations and also more and more undiscovered discoveries. “The amount of data in the astronomical archives is growing exponentially and we wanted to use it,” Kroc explains. A new data analytics tool often causes a hack there.

For example, Kroc and his team have made at least 37,000 collages of Hubble. These images were taken between April 30, 2002, and March 14, 2021. In the end, the astronomers discovered something that had not been noticed before: some of the streaks on the images were hard to spot.

11,482 volunteers

“Because of the function through which Hubble leaves and the movement of the telescope itself, the lines appear to be curved. This way it is difficult to classify impacts like asteroids. At least for computers.” This time no less than 11,482 volunteers were called, who later learned algorithms to get to know asteroids better.

In the end, no fewer than 1,316 images were examined that identified 2,487 possible asteroids. Of these, 1701 are actually rated this way.

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