The Sun Was Hiding a Potentially Hazardous AsteroidThe Sun Was Hiding a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/15221045/potentially-hazardous-asteroids.png 512 474 Asteroid Day https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/15221045/potentially-hazardous-asteroids.png
Recently, the media reported the detection of a “planet killer” asteroid. The object, called 2022 AP7 and discovered near the orbits of Earth and Venus, is the largest potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) found in eight years. With a diameter between 1.1 km and 2.3 km, its impact would cause a global catastrophe.
Currently, 2022 AP7 crosses Earth’s orbit while our planet is on the opposite side of the Sun. Still, astronomers say that over thousands of years, the asteroid and Earth will slowly begin to cross the same point closer together, thus increasing the chances of a catastrophic impact.
To find this and other asteroids, astronomers trained the Dark Energy Camera of a 4-metre Telescope at Cerro Tololo in Chile. The glare of the sun makes observations impossible for most of the day, so they only had two windows of a few minutes of twilight each night to make their observations.
Making observations close to the Sun is often difficult because its brightness outweighs the faint light reflected by small asteroids, creating a blind spot. The only opportunities are just before sunrise and after sunset when its glare doesn’t block the view.
NASA has plans to search for potentially dangerous asteroids using a telescope in space. Its Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor, scheduled to launch in 2026, will be able to survey the Solar System very efficiently, including those blind spots caused by the Sun.
In space, there will be no such limitation because there is no atmosphere there. The glare that significantly limits the work of astronomers on Earth is caused by the planet’s atmosphere.
Read more about this asteroid:
Largest Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Detected in Eight Years (SciTech Daily video)
Article “A Deep and Wide Twilight Survey for Asteroids Interior to Earth and Venus” – Scott S. Sheppard et al.
Asteroid 2022 AP7 – Eyes on Asteroids
Asteroid 2022 AP7 – Orbit diagram