A newly discovered asteroid is sticking close to our sun — much closer than our own planet Earth. The asteroid, called 2021 PH27, completes an orbit around the sun every 113 days and comes within 12.4 million miles (20 million kilometers) of our star. That gives this space rock the distinction of having the shortest known orbital period for an asteroid — and only the second shortest orbit around the sun after Mercury, which takes 88 days to complete its orbital journey around our star. Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science, discovered the asteroid in twilight observations made by Brown University astronomers Ian Dell’Antonio and Shenming Fu on August 13. The asteroid is 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) in size and “very few asteroids this size in the inner solar system likely exist that are unknown,” Sheppard said.
📸: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva