A group of astronomical objects collate this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Background galaxies ranging from stately spiral galaxies to hazy ellipticals are strewn across the image, and bright foreground stars are much closer to home, surrounded by diffraction spikes. In the center of the image, the fuzzy figure of the young galaxy UGC 7983 appears as a hazy cloud of light. Located about 30 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Virgo, UGC 7983 is a dwarf irregular galaxy – a type thought to be similar to the oldest galaxies in the universe.
This image also hides an astrological intruder. A small asteroid, only a few kilometers across, can be seen crossing the upper left side of this image. The asteroid impact can be seen as four streaks of light separated by small gaps. These lines of light represent the four separate exposures that were combined to create this image, and the small gaps between each observation are necessary to change the filters inside Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
Capturing an asteroid was a fortunate side effect of a larger effort to monitor every known galaxy close to the Milky Way. When The project It was first proposed that approximately 75% of all the Milky Way’s close neighbors in the galaxy have been imaged by Hubble. A group of astronomers has proposed using the gaps between the longer Hubble observations to take pictures of the remaining 25%. The project was an elegantly effective way to fill in some of the gaps not only in the Hubble observational schedule, but also in our knowledge of nearby galaxies.
European Space Agency
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