Wayward Asteroid Photobombs Hubble Snapshot of Galaxy UGC 12158

 Wayward Asteroid Photobombs Hubble Snapshot of Galaxy UGC 12158

This Hubble Space Telescope image of the barred spiral galaxy UGC 12158 looks like someone took a white marking pen to it. In reality it is a combination of time exposures of a foreground asteroid moving through Hubble's field-of-view, photobombing the observation of the galaxy. Several exposures of the galaxy were taken, what is evidence in the dashed pattern.

The asteroid appears as a curved trail due to parallax: because Hubble is not stationary, but orbiting Earth, and this gives the illusion that the faint asteroid is swimming along a curved trajectory. The uncharted asteroid is in inside the asteroid belt in our solar system, and hence is 10 trillion times closer to Hubble than the background galaxy. 

Rather than a nuisance, this type of data are useful to astronomers for doing a census of the asteroid population in our solar system.



NASA, ESA, Pablo García Martín (UAM)

Image Processing

Joseph DePasquale (STScI)


Alex Filippenko (UC Berkeley)

About The Object
Object Name UGC 12158
Object Description Sprial galaxy with asteroid passing across field of view
R.A. Position 22:42:10.496
Dec. Position 19:59:49.21
Constellation Pegasus
Distance 400 million light years
Dimensions Image is about 2.2 arcmin across (about 256,000 light-years)
About The Data
Data Description The HST observations include those from program (A. Filippenko). Image Processing: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)
Instrument ACS/WFC
Exposure Dates September 15, 2004
Filters F475W, F606W, F814W
About The Image
Color Info These images are a composite of separate exposures acquired by the ACS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope. Several filters were used to sample broad wavelength ranges. The color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are: Blue: F475W, Green: F606W, Red: F814W.
Compass Image This is a Hubble Space Telescope image of the barred spiral galaxy UGC 12158. The majestic galaxy has a pinwheel shape made up of bright blue stars wound around a yellow-white hub of central stars. The hub has a slash of stars across it, called a bar. The galaxy is tilted face-on to our view from Earth. A slightly s-shaped white line across the top is a Hubble image is of an asteroid streaking across Hubble's view. It looks dashed because the image is a combination of several exposures of the asteroid flying by like a race car.
About The Object
Object Name A name or catalog number that astronomers use to identify an astronomical object.
Object Description The type of astronomical object.
R.A. Position Right ascension – analogous to longitude – is one component of an object's position.
Dec. Position Declination – analogous to latitude – is one component of an object's position.
Constellation One of 88 recognized regions of the celestial sphere in which the object appears.
Distance The physical distance from Earth to the astronomical object. Distances within our solar system are usually measured in Astronomical Units (AU). Distances between stars are usually measured in light-years. Interstellar distances can also be measured in parsecs.
Dimensions The physical size of the object or the apparent angle it subtends on the sky.
About The Data
Data Description
  • Proposal: A description of the observations, their scientific justification, and the links to the data available in the science archive.
  • Science Team: The astronomers who planned the observations and analyzed the data. "PI" refers to the Principal Investigator.
Instrument The science instrument used to produce the data.
Exposure Dates The date(s) that the telescope made its observations and the total exposure time.
Filters The camera filters that were used in the science observations.
About The Image
Image Credit The primary individuals and institutions responsible for the content.
Publication Date The date and time the release content became public.
Color Info A brief description of the methods used to convert telescope data into the color image being presented.
Orientation The rotation of the image on the sky with respect to the north pole of the celestial sphere.