February 27, 2021

A mini moon was 13,000 kilometers from Earth for years


Mini Moon 2020 CD3.

Mini Moon 2020 CD3.
Geminy Observatory

The mini moon trapped by gravity of the Earth that was discovered in February I had been in the neighborhood for years from our planet, about 13,000 kilometers, and it has already disappeared.

New study findings describing this tiny asterioid, a floating silicate rock call 2020 CD3, have been published in the Astronomical Journal.

Grigori Fedorets, a postdoctoral researcher at Queen’s University Astrophysical Research Center in Belfast who led the multi-telescope observing campaign, described the sighting of the miniature moon on 15 February as “a rare gift for astronomers”.

2020 CD3 was discovered on February 15, 2020 with a 1.5-meter telescope by Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne at the Catalina Sky Survey, operating from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

How was it such a rare object, A global effort led by the Queen’s astronomer to study it and compare it with findings from the only other known mini-moon was quickly launched to confirm its status.

It is believed that 2020 CD3 could have entered Earth’s orbit several years ago, but was only visible with powerful telescopes on its way out of the Earth-Moon system, which left on March 7.

Fedorets explained in a statement: “The February discovery was significant, as the only remaining mini moon astronomers they have documented was recorded in 2006, spending about a year in orbit around Earth. We couldn’t miss such an opportunity! exceptional!

“Asteroid 2020 CD3 was a companion to Earth for longer than the previous mini moon and we were able to calculate its orbit and study it deeply enough to derive its physical properties and its period of rotation, showing that it was a natural phenomenon and not an artificial body like a dead satellite.

“Several powerful telescopes from around the world were used for the study, including those in Hawaii and La Palma, as well as the one in Arizona. Through observations, our group confirmed that it is a silicate fragment of a larger body. We also calculated that it was to some 13,000 kilometers from Earth in its closest approach and with a size of between 1 and 1.5 meters in diameter, “he explained.

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