2021 PH27, The Fastest Asteroid In The Solar System

The orbital movement speed of 2021 PH27 also reaches 106 km per second in its perihelion phase

JAKARTA – Recently, researchers have discovered an asteroid with the fastest orbital period in the solar system. That asteroid is 2021 PH27.

Citing the National Aeronautics and Space Institute’s (LAPAN) Science Education page, 2021 PH27 was first discovered by astronomer Scott Sheppard working at the Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) using the Dark Energy Camera (DEC) instrument.

DEC is a multi-purpose instrument that can capture images of objects in the universe with a wide range of frequencies such as near ultraviolet, visible light, and near infrared.

This instrument is mounted on the Victor M. Blanco 4-Meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Chile. Based on data from NASA’s JPL Small-Body Database Browser (SBDB), the speed of asteroid 2021 PH27 orbiting the sun is 114.48 days.

The length of this orbital period is slightly longer when compared to Mercury, which is able to orbit the sun for only 88 days.

Categorized as having a fast orbital period because 2021 PH27’s orbit is more oval than Mercury. If the elongation of Mercury’s orbit is 0.21; PH27’s 2021 orbital elongation is 0.71 or almost 3.5 times more oval than Mercury’s orbit. The orbital movement speed of 2021 PH27 also reaches 106 km per second in its perihelion phase.

Please note, 2021 PH27 is included in the Atira asteroid family, which is an asteroid whose orbit is inside Earth’s orbit. So the Atira asteroid family is also referred to as an Interior Earth Object. This is because the aphelion distance—the object’s furthest point from the Sun—asteroids is smaller than Earth’s aphelion distance.

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Asteroid 2021 PH27 has an aphelion distance of 117,983,472 km. While the distance perihelion or the closest point of the object to the Sun is 20,067,388 km. Also, this asteroid orbits the Sun at an orbital tilt of 31.66 degrees with respect to the ecliptic. This asteroid will reach perihelion on 7 October.

For its size, asteroid 2021 PH27 is estimated to be 1 km in diameter, which is obtained from the absolute brightness scale of 17.73 and reflects back 15% of the sunlight received by the asteroid.

Although measuring 1 km, 2021 PH27 is not included in the group of objects with potential hazards because the minimum orbital intersection distance when measured from Earth is 0.227 sa (34 million kilometers) greater than the minimum Earth MOOD for PHO of 0.05 sa (7, 5 million kilometers).


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