Astronomers have revealed a new celestial body closer to the sun than Mercury, the first planet in the solar system, thanks to their observations at the new telescope located in Chile.
According to astronomers, it is an asteroid whose path orbits closer to our ruling star than Mercury itself, although in total it takes longer to completely orbit the Sun.
Name the asteroid after 2021 PH27 has a steeply elliptical orbit that crosses the orbits of Venus and Mercury and takes 113 days to complete, which is slightly longer than the 88 days it takes Mercury to orbit the Sun.
2021 PH27 has a diameter of about one kilometer as it approaches 12 million miles (20 million km) from the sun, reaching nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius). This is hot enough to melt lead.
This asteroid is just behind the sun and will not be visible again until early 2022, so scientists plan to make new observations by then with which they can accurately determine its orbit, which will allow it to be officially named.
The discovery of 2021 PH27 is significant because it will help astronomers discover asteroids that could one day impact Earth.
“Understanding the asteroid counts from within Earth’s orbit is important to complementing the near-Earth asteroid count, including some that are most likely to collide with Earth during the day and are not easily detected in most studies observed at night far from the Sun.”Diego Scott S. Institute. Sheppard de la Carnegie Science.
Sheppard found 2021 PH27 in photos taken at twilight by Ian Dell’Antonio and Shenming Fu of Brown University. They used the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the 4-meter Victor M. Blanco Telescope at NOIRLab’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile.
The origin of 2021 PH27 is a mystery, but there are theories. “Most likely, 2021 PH27 has been displaced from the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars and the gravitational pull of the inner planets has shaped its orbit in its current configuration,” Diego Shepard.
“Although based on its large angle of inclination of 32 degrees, it is possible that 2021 PH27 is an extinct comet from the outer solar system that ventured close to one of the planets because its flight path brought it closer to the inner planet of the solar system”added.
So what does the future hold for the 2021 PH27? It’s unclear, but astronomers believe it was likely destroyed in its collision with Mercury, Venus, or the Sun, but perhaps not for millions of years. Meanwhile, it will enjoy its title as the closest celestial body to the Sun.
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