Almost impossible: between Venus and the Sun, discovered the asteroid

the Newly opened object 2020 AV2 became the first known asteroid that is always closer to our home star than Venus.

In the Solar system many asteroids. Very much. In the archives of the minor planet Center of the International astronomical Union collected data on approximately 792 thousand of these heavenly bodies.

However, in 2020 AV2 was only twenty-the first known asteroid whose orbit lies entirely inside the orbit of the Earth. By the way, earlier “News.Science” ( wrote about the elusive object 2019 LF6 became the twentieth in this list.

Why are they so little known? There are two good reasons.

first, they are not basically in space. Recall that an object is near earth, if the maximum rapprochement with the Sun, he is no further to 1.3 astronomical units (one and.e. equal to the average distance from the earth to the Sun). And, according to theoretical estimates, only about 2% are never removed from the Sun then our planet.

in addition, such bodies are extremely difficult to observe. In the sky they are always close to the Sun. So to see them only at dusk (evening or morning) and low on the horizon. This is not the best option for observations of any object, especially small and dim.

Asteroids whose trajectories lie entirely inside the orbit of Venus must be still less, and seen them even worse. Therefore it is necessary not to wonder what 2020 AV2 discovered just now, but rather the fact that it happened at all.

Photo AV2 2020 8 January 2020.Photo By Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project.

January 4, the minor planet Center sent out a message about the opening of this facility. Its orbit was calculated it is highly inaccurate, but, apparently, lay inside the orbit of Venus.

the baton was picked up by the Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi (Gianluca Masi) working in the project “Virtual telescope” (Virtual Telescope Project). This network integrates a variety of robotic telescopes which can manage online as astronomers-professionals and Amateurs. Sitting with a laptop at home, it is possible to observe on the instrument, in another part of the world. (By the way, the virtual Observatory has recently appeared in Russia).

the astronomer was only half an hour in the evening to see the goal on the still-bright sky, and with every minute the object sank lower. However, Ointments have coped with difficulties and sent a report on their observations to the minor planet Center.

having Processed the information, the specialists of the centre had issued a circular about this asteroid, in which he was named AV2 2020.

Through observation Ointment was confirmed that the orbit of a celestial body lies entirely between the orbits of Venus and mercury. Even in the most remote from the Sun the point of its orbit (aphelion) 2020 AV2 is separated from the Sun just as 0.65.e. In the Solar system there is only one natural object, of which the aphelion closer to the sun, – mercury.

2020 AV2 Orbit located between the orbits of Venus and mercury.Illustration NASA/JPL.

Paradoxically, judging by the average distance to the star, 2020 AV2 still is not the closest to the star by an asteroid. It’s a little farther than the aforementioned 2019 LF6 (0,5556 and.e. against 0,5553 and.e.).

Explain how it works. 2020 AV2 is always between the orbits of Venus and mercury. You can say that he is a prudent gentleman who decided not to pass anyone on the road.

At the same time, the trajectory crafty 2019 LF6 crosses the orbits of both planets. Its aphelion is beyond the orbit of Venus, that is, further from the sun than the aphelion 2020 AV2. But the perihelion (nearest to the Sun point of the orbit) 2019 is inside the orbit of mercury is closer to the Sun than the perihelion 2020 AV2.

In the end, the average distance to the stars opponents have obtained almost the same, but rogues 2019 LF6 still a little less. So, a little less (about three hours) he has a period of revolution. If we neglect this slight difference, both of the body make a full rotation for 151 earth day. In the competition for the fastest around the Sun of asteroids, they divide among themselves the first place.

Add that to the minds of Amateur astronomers today is another interesting project: not so long ago the European space Agency asked them to help plan a mission to a double asteroid.

Text: To.Science