Scientists discover solar system’s fastest asteroid and will collide with planets or the sun in the future

Scientists have discovered a never-before-seen asteroid that is now billed as the solar system’s space body that has the second shortest orbit around the sun, the first being Mercury. This newly discovered asteroid was named 2021 PH27, and it only takes 113 days to circle the Sun. This space rock has an elliptical orbit which is unstable and it intersects the orbital paths of Venus and Mercury.

The asteroid will reach a scorching temperature as the sun approaches

This new asteroid is approaching extremely close to the sun on its closest approach, and during that time this space rock will reach a scorching temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the space body is located in the inner solar system, it could help scientists better understand the evolution of our planetary system.

2021 PH27Ian Dell’Antonio and Shenming Fu

“Most likely 2021 PH27 has been dislodged from the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars and the gravity of the inner planets has shaped its orbit in its current configuration. Although based on its large tilt angle of 32 degrees, it is possible that 2021 PH27 is an extinct comet from the Outer Solar System that has ventured too close to one of the planets as the trajectory of its journey has brought it closer to the Inner Solar System, ”said Scott Shepherd, astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Asteroid could crash in the future

Researchers who participated in the study believe the asteroid has a limited lifespan. This means that, in a million years, this space rock will be thrown from its current path, or it will eventually end its life in a collision with one of the two planets or the sun.

This asteroid was photographed by astronomers Dell’Antonio and Shenming Fu of Brown University using the National Science Foundation’s 4-meter Blanco telescope in Chile. The astronomical duo spotted the asteroid just after sunset. During their research, they also enlisted the help of David Tholen of the University of Hawaii in calculating the orbit of the asteroid.

“Because the object was already in the Sun’s glare and was heading more towards it, it was imperative that we determine the object’s orbit before it was lost behind our central star. I assumed that for an asteroid of this size to stay hidden for so long, it must have an orbit that keeps it so close to the Sun that it is difficult to detect from Earth’s position, ”Tholen said.


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Arline J. Mercier

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