(ORDO NEWS) — The researchers, using a new astrodynamic algorithm, discovered more than 100 asteroids that went unnoticed in archival sky images.
Asteroids are rocky objects left over from the formation of the solar system more than 4 billion years ago. Components in diameter from a few tens of centimeters to hundreds of meters, these rocky bodies are too small to be classified as planets.
These 104 previously unknown asteroids were discovered using a new algorithm called Tracklet-less Heliocentric Orbit Recovery (THOR), which is part of the cloud-based astrodynamics platform called Asteroid Discovery Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) of the Asteroid Institute, part of the B612 collaboration framework, a non-profit organization that supports research and technology for solar system mapping and navigational purposes.
“The discovery and tracking of asteroids is of great importance for understanding our solar system, space exploration and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts,” Ed Lu, executive director of the B612 collaboration’s Asteroid Institute, said in a statement.
“By using the THOR algorithm on the ADAM platform, any telescope with an image archive can now become an asteroid-searching telescope,” said Liu, who is also a former NASA astronaut.
“We are using big data algorithms to not only make new discoveries using existing telescopes, but also to detect asteroids in historical sky images and track their trajectory.”
These newly discovered asteroids were discovered using archival data collected earlier and combined into the NOIRLab Source Catalog.
These data were analyzed using the THOR algorithm on the ADAM platform running on the Google Cloud system. This NOIRLab data included more than 68 billion observations made by the National Observatory of Optical Astronomy between 2012 and 2019.
Candidate asteroids were proposed for confirmation by the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union.
The discovery of these asteroids using the THOR algorithm will allow more asteroid discoveries to be made in the future using archival datasets collected by telescopes, the researchers said.
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