Near-Earth asteroids we didn’t know about before are lurking in the light of the sun

(ORDO NEWS) — Solar flare is the main reason telescopes usually look away from the Earth, away from the center of our solar system. New research shows that telescopes ready to look the other way can find a lot of interesting things.

In particular, recent studies have detected near-Earth objects (NEOs), including asteroids that we have never seen before. To understand the history of the solar system and the formation of planets, finding and tracking these asteroids could be critical.

Astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington has reported some NEOs found between the Earth and the Sun – and discoveries are just beginning.

“New telescoping probes are venturing into the sun’s glare and looking for asteroids in the direction of the sun at dusk,” Sheppard writes in a column in the latest issue of the journal Science.

“In the course of these studies, many previously undiscovered asteroids located inside the Earth were discovered.”

Among these discoveries are the first asteroid with an orbit inside Venus (named ‘Ayl√≥’chaxnim 2020 AV2) and the asteroid with the shortest known orbital period around the Sun (named 2021 PH27).

Although simulations predicted the existence of these asteroids, now telescopes such as the Zwicky Transient Facility Camera in California and the National Science Foundation’s 4-meter Blanco Telescope in Chile, with its Dark Energy Camera (DECam) attached to it, are beginning to actually find them.

These asteroids are divided into categories based on their position: we have Athyra (with orbits inside the Earth), Vathira (with orbits inside Venus) and the hypothetical Vulcanoids (with orbits inside Mercury).

From observations of craters on planets and moons, we know that the number of NEOs has been constant over the past several billion years.

Given their dynamically unstable orbits (about 10 billion years) and unpredictable movements (caused by the impact of the Sun), this suggests that NEOs are somehow replenished.

Near Earth asteroids we didnt know about before are lurking in the light of the sun

“The motion depends on the asteroid’s rotation, size, albedo and distance from the Sun,” Sheppard writes. “The smaller the asteroid and the more sunlight it absorbs, the greater its motion.”

These discoveries of asteroids should help us better understand their movement, as well as how the number of NEOs manages to remain stable for such long periods of time. Scientists believe that most NEOs are asteroids knocked out of the main belt between Mars and Jupiter.

However, Sheppard notes that there may also be stable internal reservoirs of NEOs providing a constant supply of atyrs and vatyrs. They can feed on and replace asteroids that fly out into the wider solar system, crash into a planet, or are destroyed by close contact with the Sun.

The smaller the asteroids, the more difficult it is, of course, to detect them. Scientists estimate that about 90 percent of the so-called “planet killers” – NEOs measuring 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) or more – have already been found.

“The last few unknown 1-km NEOs likely have orbits close to the Sun or high inclinations that keep them out of the main NEO research fields,” Sheppard writes.

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