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NASA 'elated' after 'previously invisible space objects' uncovered

An array of previously "invisible" space objects have been discovered by one of NASA's newest space telescopes, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, in just six months.

world Updated: Jul 19, 2010 17:31 IST

An array of previously "invisible" space objects have been discovered by one of NASA's newest space telescopes, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), in just six months.

In what has left scientists at the space agency "elated", the $320 million sky-mapping spacecraft has for the first time identified previously thousands of unseen space objects including stars, asteroids, dust clouds, comets and even a new galaxy.

Using technology to photograph the entire night sky one-and-half times in infra-red light, NASA said the telescope detected more than 25,000 new asteroids since beginning operations late last year, reports the Telegraph.

Astronomy experts said almost 100 were considered "near Earth", or within 48 million km. None, they added, posed any real threat to Earth.

The telescope also sighted 15 new comets and hundreds of potential brown dwarfs, or failed stars. It also confirmed the existence of 20 "dwars", including some of the coldest ever known.

WISE also detected what NASA scientists believe is an ultra luminous galaxy, more than 10 billion light years away that formed from other colliding galaxies.

The findings have left the space agency thrilled. Most of the objects have been invisible to most other telescopes before now.

NASA hopes that by discovering near-Earth asteroids that are on average larger than what's found by existing telescopes, it could help scientists better calculate their potential threat to the earth.

WISE completed its first full scan of the sky on Saturday before beginning another round of imaging in what NASA hopes will pick up even more objects.

By the end of the year, researchers expect to have a cosmic census of millions of new-found objects that should help answer questions about how planets, stars and galaxies form.

"We're filling in the blanks on everything in the universe from near-Earth objects to forming galaxies," said project scientist Peter Eisenhardt of the NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which is managing the mission.