Astronomers used the ultra powerful 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera (DECam) in Chile to discover the fastest asteroid in our solar system. More specifically, this asteroid was found to have the shortest orbital period yet in the Solar System. Its orbit of the approximately 1-kilometer-diameter asteroid takes it as close as 20-million kilometers from the Sun once every 113-days. Read more for a video and additional information.
Called 2021 PH27, this asteroid moves in a more elliptical path than Mercury, which brings it considerably closer to the Sun. It’s theorized to have started its life in the main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter before getting dislodged by gravitational disturbances from the inner planets that drew it closer to the Sun. However, the asteroid’s high orbital inclination of 32° could suggest that it might instead be an extinct comet from the outer Solar System that got captured into a closer short-period orbit when transited near one of the terrestrial planets.
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Though telescope time for astronomers is very precious, the international nature and love of the unknown make astronomers very willing to override their own science and observations to follow up new, interesting discoveries like this,” said Scott S. Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Science.