Although the 2020 AV2 asteroid photos taken by the Virtual Telescope Project are not a great surprise, the small point the lens points to is a major discovery. As a known interstellar space rock, it orbited the sun entirely in Venus’ orbit, making it the first recorded Vatira asteroid. It is clearly not easy to find it in orbit next to the planet closest to the sun.”
(Pictured: Virtual Telescope Project, via Cnet)
The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) survey program at the Paloma Observatory in California aims to look for unusual asteroids in Earth’s orbit. This week, the International Astronomical Union’s Asteroid Center officially named it 2020 AV2.
Virtual Telescope Project astronomer Gianluca Masi conducted a hunt to help identify the elusive asteroid and managed to capture its images. In a statement thursday, it discussed why it is difficult to find planets in Earth’s orbit (only 21 of them are currently known).
The white circle is orbiting the 2020 AV2, mercury / Venus / Earth are pink, purple, and blue, respectively. (Pictured: NASA / JPL)
If you ask a person how many times they see Jupiter and Mercury, the former is obviously more frequent than the latter. Because Mercury’s orbit is entirely inside the Earth’s orbit, the innermost planets can only be seen at dusk, with a short viewing time at the lower horizon.
Although astronomers have been looking to find an interstellar asteroid, it’s not hard to imagine how hard it will take to try to find a much smaller asteroid.
In July 2019, a study published in AAS suggested that the Vatira-class asteroid could soon be discovered, and now we’re finally waiting for the first good news.