When the astronomers observed the sky on the edge of the sunrise and shortly after dark, they discovered a boulder with the shortest known "year" of the asteroid.
The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) camera quickly scans the sky every night from the Palomar Observatory, located 145 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles. The ZTF is looking for anything that changes over time: not just stars that flash or explode, but also asteroids that pass by, as described in a statement by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on Monday (July 8) ,
The newly discovered asteroid – now called LF6 in 2019 – orbits the sun every 151 days or approximately between the 1st of January and the last in May.
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This asteroid is one of 20 known so-called Atira asteroids, a class of near-earth objects that orbit the sun closer than Earth , The orbit of this 1
"LF6 is very unusual in both orbit and size – its unique orbit explains why such a large asteroid evaded decades of diligent search," said Quanzhi Ye, the postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, who discovered LF6 in 2019 in a statement.
According to Ye, these asteroids huddled near the sun, best seen 20 to 30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset. Ye developed a special observation campaign called Twilight to find Atira objects. Together with Wing-Huen Ip from the National Central University of Taiwan, Ye has now discovered two Atira objects. Before the recent discovery, the first Atira asteroid discovered by Twilight, called 2019 AQ3, had the shortest known year of an asteroid at 165 days.
These objects also fascinate with their inclined paths. "The two great Atira asteroids found by the ZTF far out of the solar system," said Caltech professor Tom Prince in the same statement. "This indicates that at some point in the past, they were thrown out of the plane of the solar system because they came too close to Venus or Mercury."
In addition to these two Atira objects, the ZTF has found approximately 100 near-Earth asteroids and 2,000 main-belt space rocks, which, according to Caltech officials, orbit between Mars and Jupiter. They hope that his Skywatching campaign will lead to further discoveries by Atira and that NASA will pursue future near-Earth projects such as the planned NEOCam mission to search for asteroids near the Sun.