1701 The new asteroid trail was discovered by a combination of complex codes of artificial intelligence and human eyes, the main character of this discovery being once again the Hubble Space Telescope, which was supported by a team of astronomy amateurs.
In the summer of 2019, the international team of astronomers and engineers from the European Science and Technology Centre recruited a large group of non-specialists in astronomy, each year celebrating the International Day of Astronomy on 30 June. To mark that date in 2019, astronomers called on more than 11400 citizens to identify new asteroids.
For this study, asteroid hunters gained access to more than 37,000 images taken by HST. They cover the period April 2002 to March 2021 and were obtained from a combination of ACS and WFC3 HST devices.
When observed for 15 minutes, the trace that leaves the asteroid while passing looks curved and striped. The team classified and analysed about 1,310 images and identified over a thousand asteroid traces. These data served as a test set for the artificial intelligence algorithm that eventually identified 1701 asteroid stripes.
Approximately one third of the asteroids discovered by the team were classified among the well-known objects of the Small Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union.
The remaining 1,031 bodies are characterized by very weak tails and appear to be much smaller than those already present in the database and discovered by ground telescopes. Astronomers believe that most of them are located in the so-called Main Belt. The Belt, located between Mars and Jupiter, where small asteroids have never been studied in detail.
In the near future, the project will analyse 1,031 previously unknown asteroid belts.
Since Hubble photographed most of these asteroid strips many years ago, it is now impossible to track them to determine their orbits, but with Hubble, astronomers can use the parallax effect to determine the distance to unknown asteroids and to impose orbital restrictions on them.
As Hubble moves around the Earth, he changes his point of view by observing an asteroid that is also moving through its orbit. With Hubble's radiant position during observation and measuring the curve of the strips, scientists can determine the distances to the asteroids and assess the shape of their orbits. Some of Hubble's longest observations contribute to measuring an asteroid glitter curve from which the team can measure their rotation periods and determine their shape.
The project has several implications for astronomical research; first of all, it highlighted Hubble's potential for low-profile objects and especially for asteroid search.
In addition, it represents a new approach to finding asteroids that can be applied to other data sets and images; it has also shown the importance of cooperation between the scientific community and the general public, supporting everyone ' s interest in scientific research; while hunting asteroids, participants have compiled a catalogue of several astronomical objects, which has increased the value of research; these include gravitational lenses, galaxies and nebula.
In conclusion, it is an important contribution to the study of our solar system, and the discovery of small asteroids in the main belt can give us clues about how planets were formed and about the early stages of the formation of the solar system.