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Asteroids photobomb distant galaxies in dazzling Hubble view

Smiling asteroid trails gallop across a Hubble image of a distant galaxy cluster, showing that photobombs can happen anywhere.

These asteroids are trying to steal the show.

NASA, ESA, and B. Sunnquist and J. Mack (STScI)

The Hubble Space Telescope looked far, far out into space to get a look at a galaxy cluster called Abell 370. It captured the view and sent it back only for researchers to discover the cosmic equivalent of a squirrel popping into frame while you're snapping a vacation selfie at Yosemite. 

A Hubble image released on Thursday shows a series of streaks, some of which look like smiles, that are due to the photobombing exploits of asteroids. "Rather than leaving one long trail, the asteroids appear in multiple Hubble exposures that have been combined into one image," says the Space Telescope Science Institute

Abell 370 is about 4 billion light-years away, but the intruding asteroids are only about 160 million miles from Earth, which is pretty darn close in space terms. That's like having your kid brother pop up right in front of your camera.  

This image is part of NASA's Frontier Fields project, which focused on learning more about deep-space galaxies by using nearer galaxy clusters like a magnifying lens. The Frontier Fields campaign lasted from 2013 to 2017. While the observations are now wrapped up, scientists will be studying the data and images for quite some time to come.

The full Abell 370 image contains thousands of galaxies. If you look closely, you can make out the spiral arms of some of the blue-hued galaxies. Come for the galaxies. Stay for the amusing asteroid photobombs.