Astronomers find the solar system’s fastest orbiting asteroid: a 0.6 mile wide space rock

The fastest orbiting asteroid in the solar system is a 0.6 mile wide boulder that only takes 113 days to circle the Sun – and comes so close that lead would melt on its surface

  • Astronomers have discovered an asteroid with the shortest orbit known to date, flying around the sun every 113 days
  • Known as 2021 PH27, this 3,280-foot-wide asteroid was discovered on August 13
  • It has the smallest average distance of any asteroids in the solar system and only Mercury has a shorter orbit, at 88 days
  • Due to its proximity to the sun, the surface temperature of 2021 PH27 reaches nearly 900F
  • Experts don’t know exactly where he came from, but suspect he started life in the main asteroid belt
  • Due to its orbit, 2021 PH27 has two potential outcomes: either it ends up crashing or it is ejected from the inner solar system.










Astronomers have discovered an asteroid with the shortest orbit known to date, a space rock that flies less than 12 million kilometers from the sun every 113 days.

Known as 2021 PH27, the 3,280-foot-wide asteroid was discovered on August 13 by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Science, using data from the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) in Chile.

It also has the smallest average distance of all asteroids in the solar system and only Mercury has a shorter orbit (88 days) and a smaller average distance.

Astronomers have discovered an asteroid with the shortest orbit known to date, flying around the sun every 113 days. Known as 2021 PH27 (pictured), this 3,280-foot-wide asteroid was discovered on August 13

It has the smallest average distance of any asteroids in the solar system, and only Mercury has a shorter orbit, at 88 days.  Due to its proximity to the sun, the surface temperature of 2021 PH27 reaches nearly 900F

It has the smallest average distance of any asteroids in the solar system, and only Mercury has a shorter orbit, at 88 days. Due to its proximity to the sun, the surface temperature of 2021 PH27 reaches nearly 900F

In fact, this asteroid is so close to the sun that it “experiences the most important general relativistic effects of any known object in the solar system,” according to one. declaration of the National Research Laboratory in Optical-Infrared Astronomy of the NSF (NOIRLab).

Due to its proximity to the sun, the surface temperature of 2021 PH27 “reaches nearly 500 degrees C (about 900 degrees F) at the closest approach, hot enough to melt the lead,” Sheppard added.

Images of the space rock were taken by Ian Dell’antonio and Shenming Fu of Brown University.

Asteroid 2021 PH27 was observed again on August 14 and 15 by separate astronomers, confirming Sheppard’s discovery.

“Although telescope time for astronomers is very precious, the international nature and love of the unknown make astronomers very willing to bypass their own science and observations to follow exciting new discoveries like this,” Sheppard said in the statement.

In addition to being the best-known asteroid orbiting the sun, the elliptical orbit of 2021 PH27 (which is common to all planets and asteroids) intersects the orbits of Mercury and Venus.

In addition to being the best-known asteroid orbiting the sun, the elliptical orbit of 2021 PH27 (which is common to all planets and asteroids) intersects the orbits of Mercury and Venus.

In addition to being the best-known asteroid orbiting the sun, the elliptical orbit of 2021 PH27 (which is common to all planets and asteroids) intersects the orbits of Mercury and Venus.

At this point, researchers aren’t sure where 2021 PH27 came from, but they believe it may have started life in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and was dislodged by “disturbances.” gravitational movement of the inner planets ”.

“Its high orbital tilt of 32 degrees suggests, however, that it could instead be an extinct comet from the outer solar system that was captured in a shorter-period orbit closer while passing near one of the planets. terrestrial, “the statement added.

Experts also believe that the orbit of 2021 PH27 is unstable, which leaves it with two potential outcomes: either it crashed into Mercury, Venus or the sun “in a few million years”, or it is thrown out of the system. internal solar due to the gravitational influence of the interior. planets.

Asteroids so close to the sun are difficult to find because they are obscured by the star’s glow. Some of them get so hot due to their proximity to the sun that they shatter. The gravitational forces of the planet can also cause asteroids to rupture.

However, neither has impacted the 2021 PH27 yet.

“The fraction of asteroids inside the Earth and Venus relative to the outside will give us some insight into the strength and composition of these objects,” Sheppard explained.

“Understanding the asteroid population within Earth’s orbit is important to complete the census of near-Earth asteroids, including some of the more likely Earth impactors that may approach Earth during the day and which cannot be easily discovered in most surveys that observe the night away from the Sun, ”Sheppard added.

The space rock is now entering the solar conjunction phase, where it will be behind the Earth’s sun.

It should return to visibility early next year.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ASTEROD, COMET AND METEORITE?

a asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the start of the solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.

A comet is a rock covered with ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further away from the solar system.

A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns.

This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small that they are vaporized into the atmosphere.

If any of these meteorites land on Earth, it is called a meteorite.

Meteors, meteorites, and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.

For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.

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Arline J. Mercier

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