The sun can “blind” the warning system against dangerous asteroids

There are many telescopes on Earth, some of which are looking for deadly asteroids in space. Most will be able to capture, but some may sneak up on us unnoticed and suddenly strike a crushing blow. Moreover, our source of energy and life – the Sun – will help them in this. Astronomers say that potentially dangerous rocky objects may be hidden in the light of our star.

Searches towards the Sun have found several asteroids near the orbit of Venus. Image: The Sun

Blind spot

Most of our modern technologies are directed beyond the Solar System – into the cold and distant Universe, into which the powerful James Webb Observatory is now looking. But because of the Sun, such telescopes have a “blind spot”.

Recent studies of the VLT Survey Telescope have encountered this problem in order to get an idea of what we are missing from our view. A detailed study revealed previously undiscovered near-Earth objects, including asteroids. Although the probability of an asteroid colliding with Earth is low, this is a non-zero risk. If such objects are left unattended, it can lead to a fatal outcome for all mankind.

The VLT Survey Telescope in the foreground is the largest observatory in the world, designed exclusively for viewing the sky in visible light. Photo: ESO

Unexpected discoveries

“Asteroid surveys are usually conducted at night, mainly detecting objects outside the Earth’s orbit. This creates a “blind spot” because many near-Earth objects can hide in sunlight inside the Earth’s orbit. New telescopes are looking for asteroids that are hiding in the glare of the Sun. These have already been discovered by many previously undiscovered asteroids,” explained Professor Scott Shepard in his article entitled “In the Glare of the Sun” in the journal Science.

Among such objects was the first asteroid in the inner orbit of Venus. Another one was found to have one of the shortest known periods of rotation around the Sun. Both were found in the last two years. Therefore, we should expect the discovery of a much larger number of asteroids, some of them may even pose a hidden danger to humanity in the future.

Recall that earlier another asteroid flew past the Earth, but the collision did not happen again.

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