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Hubble Heritage Archive: Asteroid Trail in Centaurus

27 Aug 2020, 12:00 UTC
Hubble Heritage Archive: Asteroid Trail in Centaurus
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The text and images in this article were originally published on March 4, 1999, and reflect information about the asteroid trail in Centaurus available at that time.

A Mote in Hubble’s Eye

On April 6, 1994 NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was performing a detailed study of the Sun’s nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, using the Fine Guidance Sensors to search for small deviations in the position of Proxima Centauri that could reveal the presence of an unseen planetary companion. Rather than sit idle while this study went on, the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) was activated using the observing strategy set out in a program initiated by Dr. Ed Groth (Princeton) designed to make use of this otherwise wasted time. The image captured by this WFPC2 parallel observation is a typical Milky Way star field in the constellation Centaurus. Such images can be used to study the evolution of stars that make up our galaxy. Most of the stars in this image lie near the center of our galaxy some 25,000 light-years distant. But one object, the blue curved streak, is something much closer. An uncatalogued, mile-wide bit of rocky debris orbiting the Sun only light-minutes away ...

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