Astronomers have discovered three new near-Earth asteroids, including the closest known ones to the Sun. The list includes one of the largest known asteroids, which is considered potentially dangerous for us.
The damage that a large space rock can do is enormous. So NASA and others are keeping a close eye on the skies to catalog everything that might come our way in the future. Also in the future, a mission similar to the recent DART may help.
So, a team of astronomers using the Dark Energy Camera has discovered three new asteroids in our area. One of them, designated 2021 PH27, is about 1 km wide and orbits closer to the Sun than any previously discovered object. At certain points, its surface reached a temperature of about 500 ° C, which is more than enough to melt lead.
The second asteroid, known as 2021 LJ4, is smaller, measuring between 300 and 400 m. But the most intriguing is the third recently discovered asteroid. This rock, known as 2022 AP7, is 1.5 km in diameter. Astronomers believe that all asteroids larger than 1 km wide can become potential “planet killers”. To make matters worse, 2022 AP7 has an orbit that could cross Earth’s, so it qualifies as a potentially hazardous asteroid.
The fact that such a large asteroid has gone undetected for so long is worrying. The main problem is that the brightness of the Sun makes it difficult to detect asteroids between the Earth and the Sun.
Ground-based observatories have only two 10-minute windows per night to look in the direction of the Sun during the twilight period. The Dark Energy Camera is specifically designed for this task, allowing you to look deeper into the sky in a shorter period of time than other telescopes.