Friday, June 02, 2023
Scientists have discovered that a space rock — named 2023 FW13 — earlier believed to be following Earth for at least two millennia — is actually orbiting the Sun, which makes this stalking asteroid a quasi-moon.
The asteroid was first spotted in March by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii.
The orbiting path of the asteroid is the same as Earth, making it a fake moon.
According to Alan Harris, a scientist specialising in near-Earth objects at the Space Science Institute, Earth plays essentially no role in its motion,"
"[It's] in no way associated with Earth other than by chance," he told Sky & Telescope News.
It is said that the quasi-moons trail Earth for just a few decades, however, 2023 FW13 is different.
According to astronomical data, this space rock had been following the Earth since 100 BC.
Space.com also reported that other telescopes have also confirmed the existence of this asteroid, which was listed in April by the Minor Planet Center at the International Astronomical Union as a known object.
The asteroid is roughly 20 meters long, which is about the size of a semi-truck, and it comes within about 9 million miles of Earth at the closest point of its path, according to Space.com.
Harris said: "For reference, the moon — the one we all know and love — is about 238,855 miles away. It's unlikely to hit Earth, though."
"The good news is, such an orbit doesn't result in an impacting trajectory 'out of the blue,'" he added.
This object is not the first of its kind. In 2016, the Pan-STARRS observatory discovered an asteroid that was believed to be a fragment of the Earth’s only natural satellite — the big one that we can all see in the sky.