A team of astronomers led by Quanzhi Ye from Caltech University in the US found 2019 LF6 using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory in California, as noted in a press release. Since the mission is created to use infrared to track the heat signatures of asteroids, it will be able to successfully find other Atira objects. The article, generally called as 2019 LF6, finishes an orbit of the star every 151 days and comes closer to the Sun than even Mercury.LF6 travels in an oval orbit that takes it inside Mercury's orbit, across the Sun, after which again out past the orbit of Venus.
"Both of the large Atira asteroids that were found by ZTF orbit well outside the plane of the solar system", Tom Prince, Ira S. Bowen Professor of Physics at CalTech said. Both of the objects orbit basically perpendicular to the essentially flat plane of the solar system that the planets inhabit. Lots of them have long, elliptical orbits around our Sun, swinging via our system - generally making close passes of Earth alongside the way - across the Sun and then back out once more.
As noted, 2019 LF6 was discovered by the ZTF camera, which rapidly scans the sky at night.
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.
In addition to the two Atira objects, ZTF has so far found around 100 near-Earth asteroids and about 2,000 asteroids orbiting in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter. NEOCam would pick up the infrared, or heat, signatures of asteroids.
The discovery was published by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. NASA supports ZTF's search for near-Earth objects through the Near-Earth Object Observations program.