Asteroid spotted passing in front of spectacular Tadpole Nebula
1719 Jens, an asteroid passing through our solar system, passed in front of the Tadpole Nebula, about 12,000 light-years away, in a new infrared snapshot taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.
An asteroid passing through our solar system appeared to fly across a star-forming nebula about 12,000 light-years away from Earth in a new infrared snapshot taken by a NASA space telescope.Skip to next paragraph
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The relative nearby asteroid, called 1719 Jens, just happened to be flying through space at the same NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) was studying the much more distant Tadpole nebula in the Auriga constellation. And like any interloper blocking a photographer's view, the asteroid popped up in the WISE observatory images.
In the asteroid photo, the space rock 1719 Jens appears as a series of yellow-green blobs peppering the otherwise colorful Tadpole nebula. A second asteroid even makes an appearance, which NASA highlighted in a box in the new photo.
But wait, there's more.
WISE was also able to use its infrared eye to spy two satellites that fly in orbits above its own (highlighted in the ovals in the photo). The satellites appear to streak through the frame, appearing as faint green trails in the busy image.
The apparent motion of asteroids is slower than satellites because asteroids are much more distant, so instead of appearing as streaks in a single frame, the asteroids appear as dots that move from one WISE frame to the next.
The site of all the action, the Tadpole region, is full of stars as young as only a million years old – relative infants in stellar terms – and has a mass of more than 10 times that of our sun.