Scientists discovered the origin of Earth’s “second moon”.

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Scientists discovered the origin of Earth’s “second moon”.
Researchers at China’s Tsinghua University link Kamo’Olewa’s orbit and shape to Giordano Bruno crater on the moon – NASA

Many people will be surprised to know that the moon is not the only thing visible in the night sky. However, scientists have begun calling a strange object orbiting Earth the “second moon,” and now scientists may have discovered where it came from.

There are actually many moon-like objects in space, but only a few more 200,000 Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) have planet-like orbits. One of these is called 469219 Kamo’oalewaIt revolves around the Sun, but moves synchronously with the Earth’s orbit, so it appears to be orbiting the Earth. This makes it a “near moon” or to some an “Apollo asteroid”..

As large as the Statue of Liberty, Kamo’oalewa is measured between 40 and 100 meters (131-328 ft) in diameter and rotates rapidly: Completes one cycle every 28 minutes.

Generally, the NEAs They are space rocks that scientists believe came from the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. But a new study reveals just that KamoOalewa It may be a moon rather than an asteroid.

Published in the magazine Natural Astronomy, the new study used existing analyzes of Kamo’oalewa’s light spectrum. Interest in the asteroid increased significantly in 2021 Large Binocular Telescope Observatory in Arizona They suggested that its composition is more similar to lunar rock than a typical asteroid. This analysis revealed that silicates (a class of minerals) are very common in lunar samples. In other words, the Earth’s “second moon” probably came from the first.

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The study says the celestial object is Kamo’oalewa An asteroid impact may have ejected it from the moon millions of years ago, according to a detailed analysis carried out by astronomers at the University of Arizona. Research published in 2023, used Numerical models representing possible trajectories of lunar fragments caused by asteroid collisionsAn orbit like Kamo’oalewa’s is rare but plausible 0.8% of sampled scenes.

The Chinese Tianwen-2 mission, planned for 2025, will seek to confirm these results by bringing samples from Kamo'oalewa back to Earth.
The Chinese Tianwen-2 mission, planned for 2025, will seek to confirm these results by bringing samples from Kamo’oalewa back to Earth.

These results have significant implications for the search and monitoring of hazardous asteroids. NASA and other space agencies. The space agency is looking for asteroids with a diameter of 140 meters or more, like the ones that hit the DART spacecraft in a test of the latest deflection techniques. However, the researchers suggest that they should focus on smaller items as well “City Killers”They would cause significant destruction if they hit Earth.

For NASA, these findings present fundamental implications for detecting hazardous asteroids. Although Kamo’oalewa does not pose an immediate threat, research suggests that there may be other similar objects in near-Earth space.

Still, Kamo’oalewa isn’t technically Earth’s second moon. “Although the term near Moon helps to appreciate the origin of these small fragments, they have no effect on us and are completely different from other moons in our solar system.”said the astronomer Dr. Darren Paskill, who was not involved in the study, told BBC Science Focus. “If you add up all the tiny fragments ejected into space by such collisions, Earth could have millions of moons.”

Analysis of Kamo'oalewa samples could change our understanding of cosmological influences and their effect on nearby celestial bodies - REUTERS
Analysis of Kamo’oalewa samples could change our understanding of cosmic influences and their effect on nearby celestial bodies – REUTERS

task Tianwen-2Scheduled to be published in 2025, it seeks to explore in-depth KamoOalewa, but bring samples back to Earth for more detailed analysis. This represents a rare opportunity to confirm current hypotheses about the origin of this object. If analyzes decide that KamoOalewa Actually part of the Moon, it will provide a new understanding of the history of cosmic impacts and their impact on the evolution of near-Earth celestial bodies.

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Tianwen-2 It will carry advanced instruments to study the asteroid’s properties and improve its orbital and compositional models. Ability to bring a sample KamoOalewa would allow for an accurate analysis of the Earth that is only possible with distant observations.

A study of the origin and composition of substances like Kamooaleva has broad implications for astronomy and planetary science. It provides a window into the processes that shaped the Solar System and helps confirm theories about the formation and evolution of moons and asteroids. Additionally, improving the understanding of these materials will be important for future space exploration missions and for protecting Earth from potential asteroid impacts.

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