It Follows Earth Around the Sun, But Isn’t Called the Moon – International

Sharkey et al., Nature Communications, 2021 via The New York Times

Space is vast and lonely. It’s totally understandable, then, that a little rock decides to go with her. Earth It is on to take in his annual circumnavigation of Fifth note of musical scale,

This 165-feet-long rock was discovered in 2016 by the asteroid hunter telescope pan-stars 1, from Hawaii. Hawaiian name for this singular entity, (469219) kamoaleva, means “celestial object oscillation”. As it repeatedly circles the Earth, this timid body never gets closer to 9 million miles, which is 38 times the farthest from the Moon. It travels as far as 25 million miles before meeting close. next.

Calculations of its orbital waltz indicate that it has begun to follow our planet relatively steadily. almost a century ago And will continue to pirate around the Earth for many centuries. But where did Kamoaleva come from? It is difficult to study the object with binoculars due to its small dimensions and tendency to hide in shadow.

But in an article published on Thursday, the 18th communication earth and environmentA team of scientists told that they may have solved this mystery. Observing Kamo’olewa for a few moments as it was lit by the Sun, astronomers found that it appeared to be composed of the same kind of frozen magmatic material found on the lunar surface.

“My first reaction to the 2019 comments was that I was probably wrong,” he said. Benjamin Sharkey, a graduate student at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study.

was expected kamoaleva commonly found minerals asteroids, But additional observations this spring made it clear that “the data didn’t care what we thought,” Sharkey said. Kamo’Oleva actually looked like an extremely small version of the Moon. Making this discovery, he said, “I was excited and confused at the same time.”

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Depending on its orbit and composition, Kamoaleva may have been a piece of the Moon, which was torn apart by a meteor impact in the past.

Kamoaleva may look like a miniature moon, but it is not. Unlike the Moon, which is gravitationally bound to Earth, Kamo’Olewa is gravitationally bound to the Sun. If you made Earth suddenly disappear, Kamo’Oleva would continue to orbit our star. This is known as a quasi-satellite. Astronomers know of four others that live near Earth, but Kamoaleva’s orbit is the most stable.

In April 2017, when the Earth was between the near-satellite and the Sun, Kamo’Oleva was well illuminated. Astronomers observed it with two telescopes in Arizona — the Large Binocular Telescope and the Lowell Discovery Telescope — and used the reflected light to identify your minerals. They observed a number of silicates, minerals found in rock bodies throughout the Solar System – and subsequent observations confirmed that the silicates of Kamo’Oleva looked like the silicates found on the Moon.

This may be a coincidence, and so the study authors suggested other possible origin stories: Kamo’olewa may have been a captured asteroid with a composition similar to the Moon, or an asteroid separated by the Earth-Moon gravitational pull. Could be a piece. System.

The team’s data, however, “support a lunar origin,” said Hannah Sargent, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida not involved in the study.

This quasi-satellite may not be the only one: the orbits of the three other near-Earth objects are similar to those of Kamo’Olewa, to suggest that they may all have come from the same cataclysmic event. But at the moment, “there is still not enough evidence to reliably assert how these objects originated,” Sargent said.

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“The only way to know for sure is to send a spacecraft to this tiny body,” said Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis who was not involved in the study. China’s space agency plans to collect samples to land on it and return to Earth later this decade.

“Until then, we are left with the possibility that, on our journey through space, we will be accompanied by the debris of a collision that created a hole in the Moon,” Byrne said. “And it’s really cool.” /Translation Livia Buelloni Gonaleves

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About the author: Raven Weber

Musicaholic. Unapologetic alcohol maven. Social media expert. Award-winning coffee evangelist. Typical thinker.

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