<p class="c4 c18"><strong>With the world abuzz this week about <a class="c8" href="http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/30/giant-rock-sails-past-earth-friday/">Earth</a><a class="c8" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fnewswatch.nationalgeographic.com%2F2013%2F05%2F30%2Fgiant-rock-sails-past-earth-friday%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNG-1LvhORZLO6f-E4AQypAg6V6oWw">'</a><a class="c8" href="http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/30/giant-rock-sails-past-earth-friday/">s close encounter with a giant asteroid</a>, NASA scientists announced on May 30 the discovery of an entire new family of these celestial rocks hiding out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.</strong></p><p class="c4 c18"><strong></strong>This artist's impression depicts the violent birth of one of these new-found families. A violent smashup creates fragments that fly apart, forming loose groups that orbit the sun as new asteroid families.</p><p class="c4 c18">NASA researchers were able to identify 28 separate groups of asteroids by scanning millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the&nbsp;<a class="c8" href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/main/index.html">WISE</a> (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) all-sky survey.</p><p class="c4 c18">The next step will be for researchers to identify the parent objects that created these hundreds of newly discovered asteroids. (Related:&nbsp;<a class="c8" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130214-biggest-asteroid-impacts-meteorites-space-2012da14/">“Asteroid Impacts: 10 Biggest Known Hits.”</a>)</p><p class="c4 c18">—<em>Andrew Fazekas</em></p>

A Violent Birth

With the world abuzz this week about Earth's close encounter with a giant asteroid, NASA scientists announced on May 30 the discovery of an entire new family of these celestial rocks hiding out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

This artist's impression depicts the violent birth of one of these new-found families. A violent smashup creates fragments that fly apart, forming loose groups that orbit the sun as new asteroid families.

NASA researchers were able to identify 28 separate groups of asteroids by scanning millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) all-sky survey.

The next step will be for researchers to identify the parent objects that created these hundreds of newly discovered asteroids. (Related: “Asteroid Impacts: 10 Biggest Known Hits.”)

Andrew Fazekas

Illustration courtesy Caltech/NASA

Space Pictures This Week: Volcanic Vortices and Asteroid Families

An asteroid family is born and a nebula reveals its secrets in this week's best new space pictures.

Read This Next

What drives elephant poaching? It’s not greed
How old are you, really? The answer is written on your face.
The rise of vegan safaris

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet