WISE Mission Thread; Launched Dec 14

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EarthlingX

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blogs.jpl.nasa.gov : Rocks and Stars with Amy: This Asteroid Inspected by #32
Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

By Amy Mainzer

Over the course of the nine months we’ve been operating WISE, we’ve observed over 150,000 asteroids and comets of all different types. We had to pick all of these moving objects out of the hundreds of millions of sources observed all over the sky — so you can imagine that sifting through all those stars and galaxies to find the asteroids is not easy!

We use a lot of techniques to figure out how to distinguish an asteroid from a star or galaxy. Even though just about everything in the universe moves, asteroids are a whole lot closer to us than your average star (and certainly your average galaxy), so they appear to move from place to place in the WISE images over a timescale of minutes, unlike the much more distant stars. It’s almost like watching a pack of cyclists go by in the Tour de France. Also, WISE takes infrared images, which means that cooler objects like asteroids look different than the hotter stars. If you look at the picture below, you can see that the stars appear bright blue, whereas the sole asteroid in the frame appears red. That’s because the asteroid is about room temperature and is therefore much colder than the stars, which are thousands of degrees. Cooler objects will give off more of their light at longer, infrared wavelengths that our WISE telescope sees. We can use both of these unique properties of asteroids — their motion and their bright infrared signatures — to tease them out of the bazillions of stars and galaxies in the WISE images.
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EarthlingX

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wise.ssl.berkeley.edu : A Dying Star in a Different Light
Nov 17, 2010



This image composite shows two views of a puffy, dying star, or planetary nebula, known as NGC 1514. The view on the left is from a ground-based, visible-light telescope; the view on the right shows the object in infrared light, as seen by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

The object is actually a pair of stars -- one star is a dying giant somewhat heavier and hotter than our sun, and the other was an even larger star that has now contracted into a dense body called a white dwarf. As the giant star ages, it sheds some its outer layers of material to form a large bubble around the two stars. Jets of material from the white dwarf are thought to have smashed into this bubble wall. The areas where the jets hit the cavity walls appear as orange rings in the WISE image. This is because dust in the rings is being heated and glows with infrared light that WISE detects.

The green cloud seen in the WISE view is an inner shell of previously shed material. In the visible image, this shell is seen in bright, light blues. An outer shell can also be seen in the visible image in more translucent shades of blue. This outer shell is too faint to be seen by WISE.

NGC 1514 is located 800 light-years away, in the constellation Taurus.

In the WISE image, infrared light with a wavelength of 3.4 microns is blue; 4.6-micron light is cyan; 12-micron light is green; and 22-micron light is red.

The visible-light image is from the Digitized Sky Survey, based at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
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http://www.jpl.nasa.gov : WISE Image Reveals Strange Specimen in Starry Sea
November 17, 2010

PASADENA, Calif.-- A new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer shows what looks like a glowing jellyfish floating at the bottom of a dark, speckled sea. In reality, this critter belongs to the cosmos -- it's a dying star surrounded by fluorescing gas and two very unusual rings.

"I am reminded of the jellyfish exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium -- beautiful things floating in water, except this one is in space," said Edward (Ned) Wright, the principal investigator of the WISE mission at UCLA, and a co-author of a paper on the findings, reported in the Astronomical Journal.
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SDC : Photo of Dying Stars Looks Like Cosmic Jellyfish With Rings
By SPACE.com Staff

posted: 17 November 2010
02:11 pm ET

A NASA spacecraft has snapped a photo of two dying stars encircled by vast rings, a view that scientists describe as a cosmic jellyfish floating in a starry sea.

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope took the eye-catching snapshot, which depicts a pair of dying stars surrounded by fluorescing gas and two unusual rings, the likes of which astronomers had never seen before.
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