A new image released by NASA has taken the internet by storm, and it has all the reasons to get enthralled. An asteroid is streaking past the Crab Nebula, and the view of this whole event is simply stunning.
Praises are pouring in for photography, and it is quite surprising to know that people are overlooking a very important fact. This isn’t a recent photo taken by Hubble Telescope, as many of the misinformed people have come to believe. Rather, an edited version of the original black and white photo taken back in 2005. A German-based volunteer astronomer – Melina Thévenot – colorized it.
The US and European space agencies have recently launched a project in June named the Hubble Asteroid Hunter citizen science project, and asked for volunteer help. The response has been overwhelming as about 1,900 volunteers managed to complete 300,000 classifications of nearly 11,000 images in only 1.5 months.
Melina Thévenot was one of the volunteers. And when she found the image in archives showing the trail of asteroid 2001 SE101 visible near the crab nebula’s center, she could not resist editing the photo by adding some colors. Many people on the internet found the edited version a piece of art.
The crab nebula is within the Perseus Arm of our home galaxy—the Milky Way. It was first observed by astronomers back in 1054, and got its zany name when an astronomer, William Parsons, discovered it in 1840. The sketched he drew looked something like crab, and thus the name ‘Crab Nebula’ was coined for the new discovery. In astronomy, this nebula is popular for being the first astronomical object ever to be identified with a historical supernova explosion.
The asteroid was first discovered in 2001 and was named thereafter 2001 SE101. It is a “main belt” asteroid as it orbits the Sun in the belt lying between Jupiter and Mars.
If you are familiar with the concept of long exposure photography, you might not be surprised to find the asteroid streaked. The Hubble remained fixated on a patch of sky for a fairly long period of time, and thus captured the trail of the asteroid.