A Huge Astroid Has Been Discovered In The Sun's Glare

By: April Carson



66 million years ago, an asteroid destroyed the dinosaurs. Today, we have the technology to spot and destroy asteroids before they reach Earth. If we're ever faced with another one heading our way, maybe we can do something about it. If the events of Asteroid vs Earth come to pass and we find ourselves in the path of a killer space rock, our only hope will be to spot it early enough to change its course.


But what if an asteroid were to sneak up on us? Well, that's where our sun comes in. You see, when an asteroid is close to the sun, it reflects a lot of light. This makes it very difficult for us to spot with our telescopes. But there is one place we can look: the Sun's glare.


Although it may seem daunting, locating objects in space that threaten Earth is relatively simple for things coming from the outer solar system. We can simply look up at the night sky with a telescope. However, finding potential threats inside the solar system gets complicated because there are more obstacles between us and those objects. When you try to focus on something close-up that is also in the sunlight, it becomes difficult to see. It would be like if someone was standing in a spotlight and you were trying to find their face; chances are, you wouldn't be able to tell if there's even a person there.


This is the challenge astronomers face when looking for near-Earth objects, or NEOs. NEOs are comets and asteroids that come within 30 million miles of Earth's orbit.

They are considered potential threats because if one were to hit our planet, it could cause major damage.


Scientists have only found about 25 asteroids with orbits that sit inside Earth's orbit. The reason for this might be twofold: their rarity in comparison to objects outside of Earth's orbit, and how difficult it is to see these asteroids against the brightness of the Sun. The issue is made worse by the fact that many telescopes aren't meant for looking at or toward our star. After much searching, scientists found what they were looking for in Chile: a specialized instrument designed specifically for this purpose.


This new asteroid, called 2015 BZ509, is special for a few reasons. Firstly, it's one of the first objects found to have an orbit that matches up with Jupiter's. Secondly, its orbit is also co-planar with Earth's own orbit around the Sun. This means that the two planets' orbital paths are always lined up with each other, and they never cross.


Scientists from all around the world gathered at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Every day, they had two 10 minute windows to use the Dark Energy Camera and scan the skies during twilight. Even though it was very difficult and time consuming, researchers were able to identify three new objects orbiting in our solar system. You can find their findings published in The Astronomical Journal.


While two of the objects, 2021 LJ4 and 2021 PH27, have orbits that entirely stay inside Earth's orbit, there is another object which could cause some problems in the future. This third object has an orbit which intersects with Earth's orbit, meaning that it could potentially collide with our planet at some point. However, we are not sure when or if this will happen.


The asteroid, named 2022 AP7 by astronomers, is nearly a mile in diameter and is the largest potentially hazardous asteroid to be discovered in the last eight years. Not only does it orbit close to Earth, but its orbit also crosses Earth’s orbit, which means there is a possibility that the two may one day come into contact. If they ever do, we could be in trouble. An object of that size would have catastrophic consequences across multiple continents. It’s not large enough to destroy the whole planet, but it would be nonetheless disastrous.


Although it's unlikely, 2022 AP7 could possibly hit Earth. Its orbit does cross Earth’s path but that is true for many objects--not just this one. It's important to keep perspective: orbits are big and the solar system is even bigger. Research suggests that asteroids and planets pale in comparison to the size of the paths they take; therefore, it is improbable that any two will intersect at random moments. That being said, we're grateful to know of its existence and hope future research provides better clarity on other present or potential planet killers lurking near the Sun.


This is not the first time an asteroid has been discovered in the Sun's glare. In 2010, another large object, called 2010 WC9, was found in a similar way.


The fact that we are now aware of the potential dangers lurking in space is the first step towards planetary defense. It is only through continued research and vigilance that we can hope to protect our planet from the dangers of collisions. Thanks to the discovery of this astroid, we are one step closer to keeping our planet safe.













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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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