By Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
By and large, asteroids have a tough time getting much closer to the sun than the approximate orbit of Earth. That’s what makes 2020 AV2 so special. This intrepid asteroid, first detected on January 4 by researchers at the Palomar Observatory in California, is now officially the first of its kind known to revolve around the sun within the orbit of Venus.
In other words, the space nugget is “intervenusian,” Gianluca Masi, director of the Virtual Telescope Project, who observed the asteroid on January 8, tells Laura Geggel at Live Science.
2020 AV2’s tight-knight tango with the sun also earns the asteroid a few more noteworthy titles. Apart from Mercury, no other natural object in our solar system is known to have a smaller aphelion—the point at which an orbiting body is farthest from the sun. Capable of completing a lap around its star in just 151 days, the space rock also has the shortest known orbital period of any asteroid documented thus far, Masi writes in a statement.
Nearly 1 million asteroids hail from the mid-to-outer reaches of our solar system, each a pint-sized relic left over from around the time the planets first formed.