peel off Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have discovered more than 1,000 traces that are believed to have come from previously unknown asteroids.
► They searched 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.
The investigative work combined human and artificial intelligence: First, about 11,500 non-specialist scientists helped identify evidence of asteroids in more than 37,000 composite images. Astronomers used it to train a machine learning algorithm that searched the remaining archive data.
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. However, they will have the same velocity and distribution in the sky as that of the so-called 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.
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