Astronomers have discovered about 1 million asteroids in our solar system, with the vast majority located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Much less often, asteroids can be found near the Sun and especially inside the Earth's orbit due to the gravitational pull of Jupiter. There are about 20 asteroids in total, whose orbits are entirely within the orbit of our planet. They are called Atirs. The orbits of many of them are significantly deviated from the plane of the solar system, which indicates past encounters of these asteroids with Mercury or Venus. The official press release of the study is available on the California Institute of Technology website.
A very rare find
Until now, scientists have assumed that asteroids, whose orbits are inside Venus, may exist, but there was no evidence of this. The fact is that it is incredibly difficult to detect such asteroids, since their orbits should bring them closer to the Sun, leaving a small window for us to notice at dusk or dawn. In addition, there simply cannot be many such asteroids because of. And yet, despite the obstacles, astronomers managed to find an asteroid called 2020 AV2. The find was made by researchers from the technology center of the California Institute of Technology and was further confirmed by observatories around the world.
The publication Ars technica cites the words of co-author of the study, George Hel, that the passage by the orbit of Venus is by no means easy. According to the scientist, the only way for the celestial body 2020 AV2 to get out of its orbit is to be thrown out due to a gravitational collision with Mercury or Venus. However, there is a much greater likelihood that the asteroid will fall on one of these planets.
The Palomar Observatory telescope was able to see the impossible - an asteroid whose orbit passes very close to the Sun
According to the researchers, the diameter of the asteroid is 1 to 3 kilometers, and its orbit is tilted about 15 degrees relative to the plane of the solar system. The asteroid will stay on the path of Venus's orbit for another 151 days, and it is also gradually approaching the orbit of Mercury. Probably 2020 AV2 was thrown into intervenous orbit as a result of a collision with another planet.
The rare asteroid was discovered at the Palomar Observatory in Southern California using the Zwicky camera, which is excellent for searching for asteroids, as it quickly scans the sky and can observe asteroids during their brief appearance in the night sky.