Astronomers have just detected probably one of the most peculiar asteroids we’ve ever come across. But what makes it so odd?
According to new data, the asteroid dubbed 2021 PH27 orbits the Sun quicker than any known space object. It also has the second-shortest orbit in the entire Solar System, right after Mercury.
Here is what you need to know.
Asteroid 2021 PH27 is Quite Speedy: Here’s Why
2021 PH27 is the newest space discovery that puzzles astronomers’ work. The asteroid needs only 113 days to complete a full loop around the Sun, on a somehow weak elliptical orbit that passes the orbital ways of both Mercury and Venus.
This indicates that if the asteroid gets so close to the Sun at its closest approach, it could reach temperatures up to 480 degrees Celsius (900 Fahrenheit). And that’s not all.
“[…] based on its large angle of inclination of 32 degrees, it is possible that 2021 PH27 is an extinct comet from the outer Solar System that ventured too close to one of the planets as the path of its voyage brought it into proximity with the inner Solar System,” explained Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Insitution for Science.
Below, you can see the orbital path of 2021 PH27 to understand the whole process better:
Other Key Details About 2021 PH27
In their observations, astronomers found that the 2021 PH27’s time is limited. They estimated that the asteroid would either be destroyed in a collision with the Sun, Mercury, or Venus within a million years or be flung off its current trajectory.
However, on cosmic timescales, asteroid 2021 PH27 can unveil some essential information about the evolution of our planetary system, a subject that is featured in most scientific papers. For example, understanding how some planets formed and why they are so unique could also help us understand more about black holes.