It's Not a Bird or a Plane
Galaxies aren't the only objects filling up the view of NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer. Since its launch in 2003, the space telescope -- originally designed to observe galaxies across the universe in ultraviolet light -- has discovered a festive sky blinking with flaring and erupting stars, as well as streaking asteroids, satellites and space debris. One such streaking object -- possibly an Earth-orbiting satellite -- can be seen here flying across the telescope's sight in this sped-up movie.
This probable satellite appears during the last 5 minutes of a 13.5-minute observation. It looks elongated because each picture frame containing the moving object is 19 seconds long. Faint ghost images on either side of the source are detector artifacts caused by the object's extreme brightness.
These bonus objects are being collected in to public catalogues for other astronomers to study.
May 31, 2005
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