Astronomers from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Laboratory of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (NOIRLab) have discovered asteroid 2021 PH27: it is the fastest known and closest to the Sun.
The new asteroid 2021 PH27 makes a full revolution around the Sun in 113 days and converges with the star at a distance of 20 million kilometers, this is closer to Mercury.
The asteroid was discovered on August 13 by astrophysicist from the Carnegie Institute Scott Sheppard, after which scientists calculated its trajectory and found that its orbit is elliptical, its semi-major axis or the largest radius is only 70 million km.
During the movement, the orbit of the asteroid crosses the orbits of both Venus and Mercury. 2021 PH27 moves the fastest of all previously discovered asteroids, it is second only in speed to Mercury with a revolution of 88 days.
Due to such a strong approach to the Sun, the asteroid heats up to 480°С. The authors also found that its orbit may be unstable and because of this, over the next few million years, it will either fall on the Sun, Mercury or Venus, or fall into other distant regions of the Galaxy.
There are several theories about the origin of the asteroid:
- First, it was part of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter,
- Second, it is the degenerate nucleus of a comet, which has spent all the volatiles.