Kilometer-sized asteroid orbits the sun every 151 days

Kilometer-sized asteroid orbits the sun every 151 days

The timespan makes 2019 LF6 the record holder for shortest year of any object smaller than a planet.

The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) camera scans the skies quickly every night from the Palomar Observatory, located 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.

Scientists at Caltech have discovered an asteroid that is about a kilometer in size that has what they term the shortest "year" known for any asteroid. The asteroid, known as 2019 LF6, orbits the sun once every 151 days. The orbit of this 0.6-mile-long chunk of rock swings from past Venus to even nearer to the sun than Mercury.

"LF6 is very unusual both in orbit and in size - its unique orbit explains why such a large asteroid eluded several decades of careful searches", Quanzhi Ye, a postdoctoral student at Caltech, said in the statement.

These objects are also fascinating due to their tilted orbits.

"Both of the large Atira asteroids that were found by ZTF orbit well outside the plane of the solar system", says Prince. That asteroid also turned out to orbit the sun outside of the solar system's plane. Since the mission is created to use infrared to track the heat signatures of asteroids, it will be able to successfully find other Atira objects.

A year on 2019 LF6 lasts just 151 days, that's two weeks shorter than another Atira asteroid known as 2019 AQ3, which previously held the record for having the shortest year at 165 days.The lump of rock has another oddity too.

'Thirty years ago, people started organizing methodical asteroid searches, finding larger objects first, but now that a lot of them have been found, the bigger ones are rare birds, ' he says.

The best time to look for Atira asteroids is during the twilight hours, around 20 to 30 minutes before and after sunset, when the camera can scan the vicinity around the Sun and not be blinded by its intense glare.

"NEOCam has the double advantage of its location in space and its infrared capability to find these asteroids more easily than telescopes working at visible wavelengths from the ground", he added.

A large asteroid belt is found between Mars and the fifth planet from The Sun, gas giant Jupiter.

"It is one of the near-Earth asteroid groups that we don't know much about, since their unique orbits make them hard to observe", Yu told Gizmodo.



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