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Thread: What is closest object to sun?

  1. #1
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    What is closest object to sun?

    Hello, I got some question that I could not have found the answer yet.

    Is there something between Mercury and Sun?

    I mean some object that has whole, or part of the orbit between Mercury and Sun. Or is there some periodical object, that we could consider as closest because of closest approach? (And still living - we know there is lots of objects that Sun consumed during close orbit.) My interest is, if this area is empty, and Mercury and Sun does their homework and clean it, or there is lot of material on periodical basis.

    Thanks a lot.
    Miki Kvetan
    Slovakia

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miki Kvetan View Post
    ... Is there something between Mercury and Sun?...
    There are no large massive objects closer than Mercury, and while there might be some small asteroids (perhaps blasted from the surface of Mercury) it doesn't look like we've missed anything. It should be noted that frequently comets get closer than Mercury, a few actually hitting the Sun. Also, there are plans to launch a probe to orbit much closer than Mercury if that counts for what you're asking.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  3. #3
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    Do not many comets have orbits that go inside that of Mercury's?

    ETA: Nevermind. Antoniseb mentioned this.

  4. #4
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    3200 Phaeton?

  5. #5
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    Using a copy of the current minor planet orbital elements file, MPCORB.DAT, which one can acquire from

    http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPCORB.html

    I find that the object with the smallest perihelion distance is K05H04C: it comes as close to the Sun as 0.07037 AU. Alas, this object has only been observed over a short span of time (12 days), so the orbit likely has large uncertainties.

    There are 10 objects with orbits with formal perihelion distances of less than 0.10 AU, and and 58 objects with perihelia between 0.10 and 0.20 AU.

    Do any of these objects have orbits which lie completely within Mercury's orbit? No. The smallest semi-major axis listed is K07E26B, with 0.55 AU. Mercury's semi-major axis is about 0.39, so much smaller.
    Last edited by StupendousMan; 2017-Feb-16 at 02:08 PM.

  6. #6
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    You can search using this website
    http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb_query.cgi#x
    Searching for q < 0.3075 AU shows 1860 objects that have a perihelion less than Mercury's perihelion.
    Searching for Q < 0.3075 AU shows 0 objects whose aphelion is interior to Mercury's perihelion.

    Icarus is an example of a Mercury-crossing asteroid:
    http://orbitsimulator.com/gravitySim...29_icarus.html

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miki Kvetan View Post
    Hello, I got some question that I could not have found the answer yet.
    Is there something between Mercury and Sun?
    You might find it interesting that when Galileo, and others, first used the telescope to observe the Sun (1610) that some thought the sunspots were objects orbiting the Sun and not on the Sun. Galileo argued correctly that they were surface objects, Scheiner disagreed.

    When it was discovered that the orbit of Mercury was not fixed but rotated with each orbit (very slightly), along came a French mathematician (Verrier) in the early 1800s who argued that another planet inside the orbit of Mercury could explain this rotation (perihelion precession), which was only a gradual swing of about 1 arcminute every 150 years. This hypothesized planet got a name... Vulcan. [They couldn't call it Planet 1, unlike the current hypothesized Planet 9. ]
    Last edited by George; 2017-Feb-16 at 07:48 PM.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony873004 View Post
    You can search using this website
    http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb_query.cgi#x
    Searching for q < 0.3075 AU shows 1860 objects that have a perihelion less than Mercury's perihelion.
    That's interesting.

    I recall from the Zooniverse when the stargrazer count had reached 1500 a few years ago.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  9. #9
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    I wonder if what folks called "Vulcan" might have been an asteroid that broke up into some of these smaller things.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    I wonder if what folks called "Vulcan" might have been an asteroid that broke up into some of these smaller things.
    What's the Allman Bros. song.... He's a Romulin Man??
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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