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US explorer traces asteroid near Tadpole Nebula

Last Updated: Friday, May 14, 2010 - 09:01

Los Angeles: NASA`s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has sent images of an asteroid marching across Tadpole Nebula.

As WISE scanned the sky on a recent mission, it caught the asteroid passing by in our solar system, NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said Thursday.

The asteroid, 1719 Jens, left tracks across the image, seen as a line of yellow-green dots around the Tadpole Nebula, a star-forming region at 12,000 light years from the earth, Xinhua reported.

The space rock, discovered in 1950, orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It has a diameter of 19 km, which rotates every 5.9 hours along its own axis and orbits the sun every 4.3 years.

A second asteroid was also observed cruising by, the JPL said.
The apparent motion of asteroids is slower than satellites because asteroids are much more distant, and thus appear as dots that move from one WISE frame to the next, rather than streaks in a single frame, said the JPL.

The Tadpole region is chock full of stars as young as only a million years old -- infants in stellar terms -- and masses over 10 times that of our sun, the JPL said.
WISE is an all-sky survey, snapping pictures of the whole sky, including asteroids, stars and galaxies.


First Published: Friday, May 14, 2010 - 09:01
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