An infrared telescope belonging to the NASA detects two objects that are approaching the Earth. But one of them, identified as 2016 WF9 made the scientists confusion.
NEOWISE telescope first spotted the WF9 on November 27, 2016. The object was apparently shot from the direction of the Jupiter and entered the path of Earth's orbit in 4.9 years.
|An illustration of a comet pass through the moon and Earth. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1hVrqV)|
And the WF9 estimated to be close to the Earth orbit on February 25, 2017. At that time the WF9 will be racing at a distance of about 51 million kilometers from the Earth. NASA said at that distance, the WF9 not endanger the inhabitants of Earth.
However, the astronomers are very curious about WF9 due to the object characteristic was unique, that is between the asteroids and comets.
According to NASA, the comet is a cosmic snowball, which is composed of gas, rocks, and frozen dust. The size is usually equivalent to a small town. When approaching the sun and exposured to heat, the comet is usually releasing dust and gas into space.
|NASA NEOWISE Telescope was made to find potentially hazardous celestial objects. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1hVrqV)|
But the WF9 could not be classified as a comet. Its diameter is only about 0.5 to 1 kilometer. The color is darker and reflect less light that hits its surface. The amount of reflected light and orbits similar to other comets, but the WF9 not have the cloud of gas and dust that commonly owned by comets in general.
While the asteroid is a rock that surrounds the sun, size ranges from 1,000 km to the most minor form of dust particles. Usually they are found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter's, though some are approaching even entered the Earth (then called as a meteor).
The astronomers said that the space objects came from the same pathways of the WF9 possibility of having multiple places of origin. That means the possibility of WF9 previously was a comet. In addition, the object also alleged was thrown from a group of dark objects in an asteroid belt.
"Perhaps, in the course of time this object lost the majority of content," said James Bauer, a NASA astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California.
If the WF9 confirmed to be a comet, it will be the 10th comet that discovered by NEOWISE since the telescope was activated in December 2013. But if it is defined as an asteroid, the WF9 will become the 100th asteroid discovered by NEOWISE.
NEOWISE itself is a NASA telescope has a task to detect the space objects approaching the Earth and potentially endanger civilization on this planet. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | THE SUN]
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