Scientists recently discovered an asteroid that aligns with Earth during its annual journey around the sun.
Dubbed 2023 FW13, the space rock is considered a “quasi-moon” or “semi-satellite,” meaning it orbits the sun in a similar time frame as Earth does, but is only slightly affected by our planet’s gravity. It measures 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter—roughly the equivalent of three large SUVs parked on the bumper. During its orbit around the Sun, 2023 FW13 also orbits Earth, 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) from our planet. For comparison, the moon It has a diameter of 2,159 miles (3,474 km) and lies within 226,000 miles (364,000 km) of Earth at its closest point in its orbit, according to NASA.
2023 FW13 was first spotted in March by the Pan-STARRS observatory, which is located atop the volcanic Mount Haleakala in Hawaii. The asteroid’s existence was then confirmed by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii and two observatories in Arizona before it was destroyed. officially listed 1 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, a network of scientists responsible for mapping new planets, moons, and other bodies in the solar system.
Some estimates suggest that 2023 FW13 has been Earth’s cosmic neighbor since at least 100 BC and that space rocks will continue to follow this orbital path until about AD 3700, Adrian CoffinetAnd An astronomer and journalist who classified the asteroid for the first time as a semi-moon after modeling its orbit said, Sky and telescope.
“It appears to be the longest-running quasi-satellite known to date,” Covinnet said.
After the initial detection of 2023 FW13 in March, space watchers dug into the data and found observations of the asteroid dating back to 2012, according to sister site Live Science. Space.com.
Despite its relative proximity to Earth, this satellite likely wouldn’t be on a collision course with our planet.
The good news is that such an orbit does not lead to an influence path ‘out of nowhere’. Alan Harrisan astronomer at the Space Science Institute, for Sky & Telescope.
This is not Earth’s only quasi-companion; A different quasi-satellite known as Kamo’oalewa was discovered in 2016. The rock sticks similarly close to our planet as it orbits the sun, and a 2021 study suggested this asteroid could In fact, it is part of the Earth’s moon.
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