The asteroid trail in Centaurus was a serendipitous
discovery made using the Wide Field and Planetary
Camera (WFPC2) while 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. This primary
program by Dr. Benedict, Dr. Jefferys (both
of the University of Texas) and collaborators
was designed to search for small
deviations in the position of Proxima Centauri
that could reveal the presence of an unseen
Proxima Centauri is close enough to our solar
system that its motion (proper motion as
opposed to parallax) can be measured as it moves against
the background of more distant stars.
This movie was also constructed from the Digitized
Sky Survey (DSS) images of this star. (The
DSS is also available via SkyView.) The image colored blue in the
movie was taken through a blue filter in 1976
while the one colored green was taken through
a green filter 6 years later.
Sky Survey (DSS) was the work of Barry Lasker and his group at Space
Telescope Science Institute.