Photo bombers in space

Anyone who has taken a long-range image knows that sometimes things get in the way of the perfect shot. The same thing can happen to astronomers when they try to capture images of faraway galaxies; as it turns out, asteroids from our Solar System are the perfect photo-bombers.

In this stunning colour scene, we can see the faint trail of 2001 SE101, a main-belt asteroid streaking past the famous Crab Nebula.

The trail appears as a curved streak starting from the bottom left and veering to the top right, just near the Nebula’s entrance.

Astronomy-enthusiast Melina Thévenot discovered the asteroid trail during her time as a participant in the Hubble Asteroid Hunter citizen science project. She created the scene by processing the original image and combining different views taken in different filters.

With the trail identified, it’s now the astronomers’ turn to get to work. From this image, and its dates and times, they can determine the orbits and future trajectories of known and unknown asteroids.

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