Astronomers have spotted an asteroid orbiting the Sun in the wrong direction!
Researchers discovered this asteroid in 2015, with the help of the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS1) in Hawaii.
The research team was led by Paul Wiegert of Western University in Ontario, Canada.
Researchers wanted to confirm whether the space rock interfered with Jupiter's orbit, and they did so by analysing the asteroid using the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) at the Mount Graham International Observatory in Arizona. The team found that the asteroid shares a co-orbital configuration with Jupiter.
The provisional designation given to the asteroid is 2015 BZ509. And researchers have nicknamed this crazy asteroid "BZ".
The study also revealed that though there is a risk of BZ colliding with Jupiter, it has thus far safely managed to orbit the Sun in the opposite direction to Jupiter.
Researchers pointed out that the asteroid is in a state known as 'retrograde motion': Any body in this state possesses a motion in the opposite direction of other bodies present in its system.
The other 6,000 Trojan asteroids sharing Jupiter's orbital path, however, are in a state known as 'prograde motion', meaning they move in the same direction as the planet while orbiting the Sun.
In the case of BZ, it orbits in a direction opposite to 99.99 per cent of all known asteroids, and all the planets, in our solar system.
"Other asteroids are known to orbit in retrograde, making the backwards motion by itself "unusual but not unique," Wiegert said in a statement.
"The stranger thing is that BZ is also playing a cosmic game of 'chicken' with the giant planet Jupiter. The other retrograde asteroids tend to remain away from the planets," he added.
The reasearchers concluded by saying that according to their calculations, BZ will remain in the retrograde state and continue moving on its bizarre path without colliding with the planet. Jupiter's gravity is likely to have played a significant role in preventing the collision.
"BZ passes once inside and once outside Jupiter each time they orbit the sun, and the two gravitational tugs that Jupiter gives the asteroid cancel out, giving BZ opposing 'nudges' that keep it on track," said Wiegert.
"Ironically, BZ would be more likely to crash into Jupiter if that planet had no gravity at all, because without the gravitational nudges, (it) would gradually drift out of sync with that planet," he concluded.