Astronomers discover the closest asteroid near the sun, says it is a new class of solar system object

This asteroid has an orbit between Mercury and Venus, and due to its close proximity to the sun, it has the smallest semi-major axis

asteroid in a collision course
Representational image of asteroids approaching the earth Pixabay

A team of scientists at the Zwicky Transient Facility has discovered an asteroid that orbits very close to the sun. It should be noted that most asteroids that orbit the sun are usually found in the asteroid belt that is located at the outer edge of the solar system. However, when it comes to the newly discovered asteroid named 2020 AV2 has an orbit between Mercury and Venus.

A new class of object in solar system

Astronomers revealed that asteroid 2020 AV2's orbit resides between Mercury and Venus, and they have called it an entirely 'new class of solar system objects'. Due to its close proximity to the sun, this asteroid has the smallest semi-major axis and the smallest aphelion of any known asteroids.

Will this asteroid ever hit the earth?

As per the initial analysis, 2020 AV2 has a diameter between one to three kilometers. However, experts have made it clear that this rogue space body is not posing a threat to the earth. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has revealed that this asteroid will be at its closest point to the earth on October 14, 2020. At this time of close approach, this asteroid will be 11 million kilometers away from the earth.

Is 2020 AV2 the closest asteroid to the sun?

The discovery of asteroid 2020 AV2 does not indicate that asteroids do not come even close to the sun. Many asteroids used to come near the sun, but only for a small fraction of their entire orbit.

It should be noted that Icarus asteroid comes closer to the sun than Mercury, in every 13 months. But unlike asteroid 2020 AV2, only a very small fraction of Icarus' orbit will be near the sun.

In the meantime, understanding the seriousness of threats posed by space rocks, NASA is apparently busy building a planetary defense weapon to protect the earth from future asteroid hits. This weapon is basically a giant spacecraft, and its primary purpose is to nudge an asteroid from its original collision course trajectory.

Related topics : Asteroid