(NASA) – A new infrared image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, showcases the Tadpole nebula, a star-forming hub in the Auriga constellation about 12,000 light-years from Earth. As WISE scanned the sky, capturing this mosaic of stitched-together frames, it happened to catch an asteroid in our solar system passing by. The asteroid, called 1719 Jens, left tracks across the image, seen as a line of yellow-green dots in the boxes near center. A second asteroid was also observed cruising by, as highlighted in the boxes near the upper left (the larger boxes are blown-up versions of the smaller ones).
But that’s not all that WISE caught in this busy image — two satellites orbiting above WISE (highlighted in the ovals) streak through the image, appearing as faint green trails. 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.
This image from WISE shows the Tadpole nebula. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA