June 8, 2023

Dubai Week

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High-speed meteorite detection in the solar system

Astronomers have discovered the fastest asteroid in the solar system, which takes 113 days to complete a revolution around the sun.

The scientists explained that the discovered asteroid has the narrowest orbit ever known, a space rock that flies 12 million miles every 113 days from the sun.

Called 2021 PH27, the 3,280-foot-wide asteroid was discovered on August 13 by Scott Shepherd of the Carnegie Institution for Science using data from the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) in Chile.

Although asteroid 2021 PH27 completes its orbit around the Sun in 113 days, it has a more inclined elliptical orbit than Mercury, which determines the orbit of any star body closer to our star.

In fact, the asteroid is so close to the Sun that it “enjoys the greatest general relative effects of any known object in the solar system,” according to a report released by the US National Optical and Infrared Astronomical Research Laboratory (NOIRLab). National Science Foundation.

Due to its proximity to the Sun, the surface temperature of 2021 PH27 reaches approximately 500 degrees Celsius (approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit) at close range (approximately 20 million kilometers from the Sun), which is hot enough to melt lead.

Photographs of the space rock were taken by Ian Dilantonio and Chinming Fu of Brown University.

Asteroid 2021 PH27 was revisited by separate astronomers on August 14 and August 15, confirming Shepherd’s discovery.

“Although telescopic time is very precious to astronomers, the international nature and love of the unknown makes astronomers very willing to pursue new and interesting discoveries beyond their science and observations,” Sheppard said in a statement.

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With the exception of the fastest known asteroid orbiting the Sun, the elliptical orbit of 2021 PH27 (common to all planets and asteroids) crosses the orbits of both Mercury and Venus.

At this point, researchers are unclear where the 2021 PH27 meteorite came from, but speculate that it may have begun life on the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and were displaced by ‘gravitational disturbances from inner planets’.

The 32-degree high orbital tilt in that report indicates that it may be a comet that has been extinct from the outer solar system, captured in short-distance orbit as it passes over one of the terrestrial planets.

Experts believe that the orbit of 2021 PH27 is unstable, which leaves two possible consequences: it will eventually collide with Mercury, Venus or the Sun “within a few million years” or be expelled from the inner solar system by the gravitational pull of the interior planets.

It is difficult to find meteorites that are very close to the sun because the light of the star obscures them. Some of them get very hot and scatter because they are close to the sun. The gravitational forces on the planet will also cause the asteroids to crash. However, none of them have yet affected 2021 PH27.

“The ratio of meteorites inside Earth and Venus to outer space gives an insight into the strength of these objects and their components,” Sheppard explained. He pointed out that this discovery would help complete the number of asteroids that would eventually affect Earth.

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The Space Rock now enters the phase of solar conjunction, which will be behind the Sun from Earth’s point of view. It will not be seen again until early 2022. Further observations are planned to determine its exact orbit.