Astronomers have painstakingly built models of the asteroid population, and those models predict that there will be ~1 km sized asteroids that orbit closer to the Sun than Venus does. The problem is, nobody’s been able to find one. Until now.
Astronomers working with the Zwicky Transient Facility say they’ve finally found one. But this one’s bigger, at about 2 km. If its existence can be confirmed, then asteroid population models may have to be updated.
A new paper presenting this result is up on arxiv.org, a pre-press publication site. It’s titled “A kilometer-scale asteroid inside Venus’s orbit.” The lead author is Dr. Wing-Huen Ip, a Professor of Astronomy at the Institute of Astronomy, National Central University, Taiwan.
Astronomers have discovered a large asteroid where there shouldn't be one. There may be many more of them. Or, there might not.