An international team of astrophysicists equipped with a particular dark energy camera (Decam) has discovered that three asteroids revolve around the Earth but only one of them could be potentially dangerous for our planet both in terms of size and proximity. L’asteroid the so-called “killer” has been renamed 2022 AP7: until now it had escaped observations due to the sunlight that has hidden it well together with the other two.
What is 2022 AP7
Its diameter is 1.5 kilometers and its orbit brings it closer to the Earth at a distance of less than 7.5 million kilometers. There is no type of alarm, no impact is expected but the newly discovered celestial body certainly arouses the curiosity of many. The discovery was published in the trade journal The Astronomical Journal and it was possible thanks to some observations of the Inter-American Observatory of Cerro Tololo in Chile and announced by the Research and Development Center US RLab in the United States.
“Among the most dangerous in recent years”
On the subject he spoke at theHandle the professor. Gianluca Masi, astrophysicist and scientific director of the Virtual Telescope. “2022 AP7 is one of the largest potentially dangerous asteroids discovered in the last eight years: it was first sighted on January 13 thanks to the four-meter Víctor M. Blanco telescope in Chile“, he declared, explaining that the celestial body belongs to a group of 15 thousand asteroids that periodically cross the Earth’s orbit. Its dangerousness due to its diameter and proximity to the Earth. At the moment, however, there is no data that makes us think of an upcoming collision with our planet, so much so that it has been removed from the list of bodies at risk of impact to be monitored “.
The other discoveries
As mentioned, the asteroid 2022 AP7 was discovered together with two other smaller ones called 2021 LJ4 and 2021 PH27, also hidden from the Sun’s light in the innermost part of the Solar System. The latter in particular has aroused a lot of interest for the temperatures so hot on its surface that they would be able to melt even lead. “Our twilight survey is scouring the area within the orbits of the Earth and Venus for asteroids“, he has declared Scott S. Sheppard, astronomer of the Carnegie Institution for Science “Earth and Planets” Laboratory and lead author of the study. “So far we have found two large asteroids close to Earth about a kilometer wide, a size we call planet killer. “
The challenge of the astronomers
Tracking asteroids in the inner solar system is a very complicated challenge for astronomers who only have ten minutes each night to survey this area while always dealing with a very bright background of the sky caused by the glare of the sun. , among other things, they occur very close to the horizon with the aggravation of the earth’s atmosphere which makes searches distorted and even more blurred. The investigation of the asteroid and the other two paves the way towards understanding the distribution of small celestial bodies within our Solar System.
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