back to article Boffins find asteroid with the shortest solar year of any space rock in our Solar System

The newly discovered kilometre-sized asteroid dubbed 2019 LF6 has the shortest solar year around our Sun – compared to all the other space rocks found floating around the Solar System at just 151 days. 2019 LF6 belongs to a small group of space rocks classified as “Atira” asteroids, which orbit between the Earth and the Sun. …

  1. ArrZarr Silver badge

    Could it be the case that instead of having two general belts of asteroids (as defined on School astronomy charts), that the areas cleared by planets are actually the exception and there's just a general abundance of asteroids all around the solar system except for where planets have cleared a path?

    Cool find though.

    1. itzman

      Two belts?

      I think if you run the rather chaotic many body maths you will find that there are only a few attractors in the solar system and orbits that lie outside of these are unstable

      I would be willing to bet that this particular asteroid will only last a few thousand or even million years in its current approximate orbit, before being perturbed [again?] by a close brush with Mercury or Venus

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Two belts?

        A close brush with Venus would perturb anyone, but usually in a nice way.

        Mercury is what you used to need if the close brush with Venus involved the Spanish Pox.

  2. davcefai
    Joke

    Ah, the old days/

    “You don't find kilometre-size asteroids very often these days,"

    They don't make them like they used to.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the old days/

      I'm not at all upset by the lack of new Km sized asteroids being found!

      Missing the next one inbound on the other hand...

    2. Michael Strorm

      Duh-Duh. Duh-Duh. Duh-Duh. Duh-Duh. Woowoowoowoowowoo.

      Reason you don't find many big ones nowadays is that they were mostly blasted into increasingly small chunks during the late 70s and early 80s.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Now I get it

    After a quick search, I learned that Atira asteroids are "confined to a zone inferior to Earth orbit".

    So that is why they can be so quick around the Sun. Also, I guess we have nothing to fear from them as long as they stay where they are.

    On the other hand, if something jolts them out of their orbit, it won't take long to become a very serious threat.

    1. PerlyKing Bronze badge

      Re: Now I get it

      After a quick search, I learned that Atira asteroids are "confined to a zone inferior to Earth orbit".

      Or you could have read the article?

      On the other hand, if something jolts them out of their orbit, it won't take long to become a very serious threat.

      If they're inside Earth's orbit then whatever "jolts" them would have to speed them up to give them the energy to get any nearer to us. I'd be more worried about objects with orbits which either cross or are outside our own.

      1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

        Re: Now I get it

        "whatever jolts them would have to speed them up"

        e.g. a gravity assist ;-)

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Now I get it

        "If they're inside Earth's orbit then whatever "jolts" them would have to speed them up to give them the energy to get any nearer to us."

        Which is far from impossible, but for an object to get a gravity assist which managed to put it on a collision course with the Earth would be pretty unlucky. (Of course, any objects on a collision course with Earth, are by definition, unlucky.)

        Generally though, we worry about stuff from outside our orbit (which would require a similar amount of energy to 'jolt' their orbits down to intersect the Earth), but that's mainly because there's more stuff outside our orbit, than there is inside it.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Now I get it

        If they're inside Earth's orbit then whatever "jolts" them would have to speed them up to give them the energy to get any nearer to us.

        Also, since this one, at any rate, has an orbit highly inclined to the plane of the ecliptic, whatever gives them the boost the increase their orbit (by a significant fraction of an AU) would also have to happen in exactly the right way to neatly pop it back into the ecliptic.

        I reckon the probability of an interaction (probably with the same planet that knocked them out of the ecliptic in the first place) that boosts their kinetic energy enough, alters the plane of their orbit, and pushes them into a new orbit that crosses that of the Earth is so vanishingly small, it may as well be zero. I know million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten, but the sorts of odds involved are going to make million-to-one chances look like a certainty.

  4. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    “You don't find kilometre-size asteroids very often these days," because they have already impacted Earth, wiping out most of the indigenous life-forms.

  5. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Short observation window

    The 20-30 min window twice a day isn't very long, Is it time we considered building an observatory on Mercury where it can look out into a well lit inner solar system without the Sun getting in the way? I know there's a thin exosphere but that shouldn't be much of an issue when looking for rocks big enough to worry about.

    1. itzman

      Re: Short observation window

      no point in building anything on mercury. Too damned hot.

      But in an orbit between mercury and venus, perhaps

    2. sundog
      Coat

      Re: Short observation window

      The most expensive part of building a base on Mercury will be shipping the blankets and sunscreen. It's not tidally locked to the sun, but its day is longer than its year, so your surface installation will either be in a deep freeze (practically no atmosphere to trap heat, or distort telescope pictures), or in blistering heat and super high solar flux.

      But at least you could power the whole base with a solar cell from a pocket calculator......

      Mine's the one with the SPF 9001 in the pocket.

      1. gollum1

        Re: Short observation window

        Unfortunately current solar cells exhibit decreasing efficiency with increasing temperature. That is why spacecraft which approach the sun need larger rather than smaller solar panels. Annoying isn't it.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Short observation window

          I'm sure that can be solved by putting a heat shield between the panels and the sun. Come on - you're just not trying hard enough!

  6. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    You don't want that barrelling through Uranus

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