Photobombing Asteroid Unleashes Webb Telescope’s True Potential!
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has started its operations recently and has already faced some challenges.
The research team was conducting a calibration experiment on the previously-discovered asteroid (10920) 1998 BC1.
The team discovered that the asteroid seemed to be brighter than it should and thought it was a technical failure.
Upon combining the JWST data with data from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission, they found out that a small asteroid had sneaked into the image.
The new asteroid was only about 100-200 meters long and had escaped detection because of its small and dark nature.
This lucky accident showed the JWST's incredible sensitivity and its ability to catalogue more asteroids of this size that were not previously detected.
The result highlights the capabilities of the JWST's Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) to serendipitously detect previously undetectable asteroids in the main belt.
The team is expecting new asteroid interlopers in future observations and repeats of these observations are being scheduled.