Astronomers have recently discovered a record-breaking asteroid with the shortest orbital year.
This asteroid is one of 20 known so-referred to as Atira asteroids, a class of near-Earth objects orbiting the sun closer than Earth.
At its most distant point from the Sun, 2019 LF6's orbit flings it beyond Venus' path and at its closest point, it's reeled back in within Mercury's orbit.
The newly discovered kilometre-sized asteroid dubbed 2019 LF6 has the shortest solar year around our Sun - compared to all the other space rocks found floating around the Solar System at just 151 days.
As noted, 2019 LF6 was discovered by the ZTF camera, which rapidly scans the sky at night.
"You don't find kilometre-size asteroids very often these days", said Ye in the Caltech press release.
"Thirty years ago, people started organizing methodical asteroid searches, finding larger objects first, but now that majority have been found, the bigger ones are rare birds", Ye said.
"LF6 is very unusual both in orbit and in size-its unique orbit explains why such a large asteroid eluded several decades of careful searches", he said.
According to Tom Prince, a physics professor at Caltech, these two asteroids were found orbiting near the outer planes of the Solar System.
The Twilight program has shown its worth so far and Ye looks towards the future at a possible selection by NASA's Near-Earth Object Camera mission - a spacecraft created to specifically looks for asteroids closer to the sun. On its aphelion, the portion of the asteroid's orbit farthest from the sun, 2019 LF6 moves beyond the orbit of Venus. That asteroid also turned out to orbit the sun outside of the solar system's plane.
The best time to look for Atira asteroids is during the twilight hours, around 20 to 30 minutes before and after sunset, when the camera can scan the vicinity around the Sun and not be blinded by its intense glare.
This artist concept catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter and how they have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun.
Finding an asteroid this large is quite rare.
The International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center listing for 2019 LF6 is at https://minorplanetcenter.net/mpec/K19/K19M45.html.