Astronomers utilizing the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a state-of-the-art digicam on the Palomar Observatory in southern California, have noticed a really uncommon asteroid, named 2019 LF6.
2019 LF6 is considered one of solely 20 identified ‘Atira’ asteroids, whose orbits fall solely inside Earth’s.
The article is about three,300 toes (1 km) in dimension and circles the Solar roughly each 151 days.
In its orbit, 2019 LF6 swings out past Venus and, at occasions, comes nearer in than Mercury, which circles the Solar each 88 days.
“2019 LF6 may be very uncommon each in orbit and in dimension — its distinctive orbit explains why such a big asteroid eluded a number of a long time of cautious searches,” mentioned Dr. Quanzhi Ye, a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech and a member of the ZTF crew.
ZTF scans the skies each evening for transient objects, corresponding to exploding and flashing stars and transferring asteroids, and is well-suited for locating Atira asteroids, which have quick observing home windows.
To search out such asteroids, the ZTF crew has been finishing up a devoted observing marketing campaign, named Twilight. To date, this system has found one different Atira asteroid, named 2019 AQ3.
Earlier than 2019 LF6 got here alongside, 2019 AQ3 had the shortest identified 12 months of any asteroid, orbiting the Solar roughly each 165 days.
“Each of the massive Atira asteroids that had been discovered by ZTF orbit nicely outdoors the aircraft of the Photo voltaic System,” mentioned Caltech Professor Tom Prince, a member of the ZTF crew.
“This implies that someday previously they had been flung out of the aircraft of the Photo voltaic System as a result of they got here too near Venus or Mercury.
The invention of 2019 LF6 was introduced within the Minor Planet Digital Round (MPEC) e-newsletter issued by the IAU’s Minor Planet Heart on June 19, 2019.
P. Bacci et al. 2019 LF6. Minor Planet Digital Round # 2019-M45