On July 8th astronomers observed a rare asteroid with the most rapid ever known revolution around the Sun. The asteroid was caught by Zwicky Transient Facility, an astronomical survey, which is connected with the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California, US. The Zwicky Transient Facility was intended to spot supernovas, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fast radio bursts (FRBs), and flying celestial objects like comets, asteroids, and meteorites.
Named 2019 LF6, the asteroid has 1 kilometer in diameter, and it revolves around the sun, but it is also part of our planet’s orbit. 2019 LF6 completes its orbit in 151 days which is quite fast, taking into account that Mercury has a 88 days orbit and Venus has a 225 days orbit.
The peculiarity of 2019 LF6. 2019 LF6 is part of a group of 20 asteroids, the Atira or Apohele asteroids, whose orbits are entirely enclosed in our planet’s orbit, but they spin closer to the sun rather than Earth. Thus, they are hard to identify.
This rare asteroid has the most rapid revolution around the Sun
In comparison with the other asteroids of the group, 2019 LF6 is bigger and has a peculiar orbit which made it troublesome to pinpoint. The discovery could be made thanks to Quanzhi Ye, a researcher at California Institute of Technology, and Wing-Huen Ip, a researcher at the National Central University in Taiwan. Both have set up the ‘Twilight’ campaign. The campaign shows that the twilight interval between sunset and nightfall is perfect for detecting and examining celestial objects which are between the sun and Earth.
NASA also plans to launch the NEOCam in 2021, an infrared telescope, to detect more asteroids that could be part of the Atira group. NEOCam would be able to identify the asteroids by searching for their heat signature. In the past 20 years, NASA was able to uncover over 90% of Earth’s asteroids. The initial plan was to catch the asteroids that could be a threat to Earth. It was decided that 2019 LF6 does not threaten our home planet, despite its size.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.