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A flying asteroid left its mark on a picture of the galaxy taken by Hubble.

Published: 2023-01-18

When shooting the starry sky, a rather rare event occurred - the Hubble Space Telescope accidentally filmed the flight of a very small asteroid on a cosmic scale, which fell into the frame in the process of photographing the UGC 7983 galaxy.

UGC 7983, the main target of the imagery, is visible in the center of the image released on Monday. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), UGC 7983 is a dwarf "irregular" galaxy located 30 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. Other galaxies are visible in the background, but the main interest is not they, but the trail of an asteroid flying in front of them.

According to the ESA, the asteroid is very small - only a few kilometers across, four thin strokes of light, which are its trail, can be seen in the upper left of the image. Separate strokes appeared due to the fact that the photo, in fact, is a combination of four shots.

The ESA called the discovery of the asteroid "a fortunate side effect", the main purpose of the filming was to fill in the "gaps" in Hubble's observations of known galaxies located relatively close to the Milky Way.

Hubble, a joint project between NASA and ESA, has been in operation for more than thirty years. While the space telescope is known for its spectacular images of galaxies, planets, and nebulae, it has also proved to be a great expert at finding asteroids. ESA said last year that asteroid hunters had identified more than 1,700 asteroid trails in archival images taken by the telescope. In addition, Hubble regularly helps scientists learn more about the orbits and sizes of asteroids.