The Rubin Observatory, which will be online in 2025, will use a novel asteroid-hunting algorithm that has just validated itself by finding a potentially dangerous new asteroid in data from another observatory. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is being finished by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy high in the Chilean Andes. This telescope’s large 8.4-meter mirror and 3,200-megapixel camera will enable it to sweep the sky with previously unheard-of speed and accuracy.
Ari Heinze, an astronomer at Washington University, is the creator of the HelioLinc3D. Heinze created HelioLinc3D in collaboration with Harvard astrophysicist Matthew Holman and former Washington University scholar Siegfried Eggl to go through the data from the Rubin Observatory and find new asteroids.
Potentially hazardous asteroids
These objects might hide in observational data for years before being found since they are small and faint. Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) can be located considerably more quickly via search algorithms like HelioLinc3D, which is based on Holman’s 2018 work on heliocentric asteroid search.
Heinze and Eggl decided to find a means to test HelioLinc3D rather than wait two years to see how it performed. The Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) project is headed by astronomers John Tonry and Larry Denneau and utilizes sky-scanning telescopes in Hawaii, Chile, and South Africa. Astronomers are thrilled with the outcomes after they gave the Washington University team the opportunity to test HelioLinc3D on their data.
The new asteroid, officially known as the 2022 SF289, will be closer to Earth than the Moon when it comes within 2,25,000 kilometers of our orbit. Given its size, this cosmic object might probably destroy several cities in a densely populated area if it ever collided with our planet.
This object has been designated as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) as a result. Fortunately for us, an new asteroid’s potential danger does not necessarily mean that it will strike the planet. The likelihood of any accidents occurring in the near future is virtually nonexistent with the 2022 SF289, as is the case with a number of other PHAs detected thus far.
Atlas Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS)
Only the next-generation HelioLinc3D employing the Atlas Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) in Hawaii was able to detect this asteroid, which is crucial to planetary security. This novel approach outperforms the existing models by detecting near-Earth asteroids with fewer and more scattered observations.
The HelioLinc3D combined several observations to make the finding, which was intended to find near-Earth asteroids for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s future 10-year survey of the night sky.
This is just the beginning, and astronomers hope to detect many more new asteroids that may be lurking near our planet using the new technique.