Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have discovered more than 1,000 tracks that are believed to have come from previously unknown asteroids. They’ve looked at archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope from the past 20 years, the institute in Garching near Munich announced. The discoveries could provide insight into conditions in the early solar system.
Accordingly, data that could have been filtered as noise or interference in most of the observations were analyzed. “What is unwanted by one astronomer may be another astronomer’s treasure,” said Sandor Kroc, the asteroid study leader.
Human intelligence and artificial intelligence were combined in investigative work: first, about 11,500 volunteer lay scientists helped identify asteroid indicators in more than 37,000 composite images. Astronomers used it to train a machine learning algorithm that searched the remaining archive data.
“Remnants of the Formation of Our Solar System”
The final record contained 1,701 tracks, according to MPE. A good third is devoted to known asteroids, leaving 1,031 unknown footprints that are now being investigated more closely. She added that the objects are likely to be smaller than typical asteroids discovered from Earth. But it will have the same speed and distribution in the sky as that of the asteroid belt.
“Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of our solar system. Through them we can learn more about the conditions at the birth of our planets,” said study leader Kroc. As of December 10, 2021, more than 1.1 million comets and asteroids have been listed in our solar system by the Minor Planet Center, according to the study authors. It collects such discoveries all over the world.
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