Hemisphere:  Southern  ·  Constellation: Aquarius (Aqr)  ·  Contains:  Helix Nebula  ·  NGC 7293  ·  PGC 170393  ·  PGC 170394  ·  PGC 192340  ·  PGC 2831352  ·  PGC 3094569  ·  PGC 3098405  ·  PGC 3098406  ·  PGC 3098407  ·  PGC 68899  ·  PGC 69039  ·  PGC 69066  ·  PGC 69071  ·  PGC 69090  ·  PGC 69093  ·  PGC 824140  ·  PGC 825934  ·  PGC 826082  ·  PGC 826510  ·  PGC 826722  ·  PGC 827135  ·  PGC 827252  ·  PGC 827324  ·  PGC 827809  ·  PGC 828023  ·  PGC 828051  ·  PGC 828217  ·  PGC 828290  ·  PGC 828605  ·  And 65 more.
Getting plate-solving status, please wait...
NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object, 



    
        

            Gary JONES
Powered byPixInsight

NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object

Acquisition type: Electronically-Assisted Astronomy (EAA, e.g. based on a live video feed)
Getting plate-solving status, please wait...
NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object, 



    
        

            Gary JONES
Powered byPixInsight

NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object

Acquisition type: Electronically-Assisted Astronomy (EAA, e.g. based on a live video feed)

Acquisition details

Dates:
Sept. 12, 2020
Frames:
30×120(1h) (gain: 0.00) 0°C bin 1×1
Integration:
1h
Avg. Moon age:
24.17 days
Avg. Moon phase:
29.17%
Bortle Dark-Sky Scale:
6.00

RA center: 22h29m28s.82

DEC center: -20°5039.5

Pixel scale: 1.490 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 90.938 degrees

Field radius: 1.229 degrees

More info:Open 

Resolution: 4944x3284

File size: 1.7 MB

Locations: Home, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Data source: Backyard

Description

Can you help identify this 'Mystery Object' ?

This image was created on 12 September 2020 from a set of 30 x 120s exposures beginning at GMT 13:21:15 (GMT + 10 = AEST 23:21:15) from Sydney, Australia.

Lat : 33° 46’ 41" South
Lon : 151° 9’ 27" East

It shows what appears to be an elliptical object, with a colour gradient changing from white > orange > red progressing outwards, suggesting a hot object.

The fact that the object’s position appears to move very slightly across a sequence of images taken over a period of 2 1/2 hours eliminates the possibility of a sensor artefact, a cosmic ray, or a reflection from a terrestrial object.

Apparent motion with reference to the background stars also eliminates a DSO.

It did not appear in any other images taken of other celestial objects earlier or later that night, but did appear on each and every image of the Helix Nebula.

The MO’s brightness increased and decreased as high-altitude cloud drifted across the imaging field, as did the brightness of the background stars.

There is little doubt that this is a ‘real’ object.

The apparent movement of the MO is consistent with parallax shift as my telescope tracked the Helix Nebula and intermittently corrected its position during the imaging session, suggesting the MO was probably << 1 Lunar Distance from Earth at the time.

I’ve been unable to find any information on man-made objects that match this time and location.

A meteorite or anything in Earth orbit would have left a trace across the image, as can be seen on several other frames from the same imaging session showing satellites whizzing by. So, I’ve eliminated LEOs, GEOs, other types of artificial satellites, and re-entry objects.

There were several NEOs in the vicinity at the time. 2020-SO was the best candidate, but it was about 4.6M km from Earth when this image was captured (although it was only 50,000 km = 0.13 LD at closest approach on 1 December). At a size of 3m x 10m, would have been impossibly small for an 80/400 mm refractor to resolve at that distance.

IMHO, the best candidate is the Chinese Kuaizhou 1A rocket that was launched on 12 September 2020 at 3pm AEST from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China. The rocket aimed to place a Jilin-1 Gaofen-02C satellite into a 535 km sun-synchronous orbit, but failed to deliver its payload due to a malfunction in the liquid-fuelled 4th stage. It was declared ‘lost’ 5 hours after launch - my first image was captured about 3 hours after that.

Q1 : Is it possible the MO is actually the exploded rocket and liquid fuel burning in the upper Thermosphere, which has almost no O2, but is rich in O (about 2E+6 / cm3 at 500 km according to the MSIS-E-90 Atmosphere Model) ??

Q2 : Did anyone else capture images of this part of the sky (between Aquarius / Capricornus / Piscis Austrinus) at around the same time, and did the MO appear in those images ?

Q3 : Can anyone help me find more information about the trajectory of the Kuaizhou 1A rocket ?

Q4 : Does anyone have any other ideas ?

If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please add them to my forum post on this topic here -> Please help identify this 'Mystery Object'.

Clear Skies,

Gary (Sydney Australia)

Comments

Revisions

  • NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object, 



    
        

            Gary JONES
    Original
  • NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object, 



    
        

            Gary JONES
    B
  • Final
    NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object, 



    
        

            Gary JONES
    C

B

Description: I updated this image to use the new, clearer image of the Helix Nebula on my Public Gallery, with clearer annotations.

Uploaded: ...

C

Description: Updated to show apparent movement of the 'Mystery Object' during 2.5 hours of imaging

Uploaded: ...

Sky plot

Sky plot

Histogram

NGC-7293 = Helix Nebula + Mystery Object, 



    
        

            Gary JONES

In these public groups

Australian Astrophotographers