The ancient space satellite has been in the vicinity of our planet since 100 BC.
Astronomers have discovered a new quasi-moon Earth – a cosmic body that orbits it but is gravitationally bound to the Sun, the Daily Mail reported.
The space object, named 2023 FW13, was discovered by experts using the Pan-STARRS telescope atop the Haleakala volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui and is one of the few known quasi-moons.
Experts believe that the ancient space satellite has been near Earth since 100 BC. and will continue to orbit our planet for at least another 1500 years, until 3700.
Neither 2023 FW13 nor a similar quasi-moon called 469219 Kamo’oaleva is believed to pose a danger to humans on Earth.
Several candidates for Earth’s second moon have been proposed, but none have been confirmed so far.
Quasimoons are a subcategory of near-Earth asteroids that orbit the Sun but stay close to our planet. They move in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, which is very similar to the Earth’s. They appear to be in orbit around the Earth, but are gravitationally bound to the Sun.
2023 FW13 was first observed on March 28 this year with the Pan-STARRS telescope, and then its existence was confirmed with other telescopes. It is listed by the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union. Although its size has not been confirmed, asteroid specialist Richard Binzel estimates it to be about 10 – 15 m in diameter.
This is nothing compared to the size of the Moon, which is 3,476 km in diameter, although the Moon is classified as such because of its orbital characteristics, not size. 2023 FW13 orbits the Sun in 365.42 days, the same time as Earth. Although its orbit is around the earth, it is so elongated that it reaches halfway to Mars and halfway to Venus.
Earth has several known satellites, many of which are quasi-satellites, although, as 2023 FW13 indicates, there are likely many more yet to be discovered.
Quasi-satellites typically follow a “stable” path around Earth for more than a few decades before eventually leaving the planet’s orbit.
Kamo’oaleva (or 2016 HO3) was discovered by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii in 2016. Its diameter is about 100 m. It will be in this orbit for about 300 years, according to Renu Malhotra, an expert at the University of Arizona.
Photo by Patrik Felker: https://www.pexels.com/photo/desk-globe-against-black-background-6220559/