Every year in April, a small asteroid known as Kamo`oalewa gets close enough to Earth that it can observe with some of our great telescopes. Maybe i can seem like one of many, but as one now defends new research published in Nature Communications Earth & Environment, nothing is further from the truth: it could be a piece of our own moon.
Using the Large Arizona Binocular Telescope, a group of astronomers observed That this small asteroid, which has Come in 46 and 58 meters in diameter, did not reflect the light of the sol in the same way as the rest of known asteroids. These changes in the asteroid’s spectrum, as this phenomenon of light reflection is known, alerted astronomers to the particular composition of Kamo`oalewa.
“I looked through all the near-Earth asteroid spectra that we had access to, and nothing matched,” he explained. it’s a statement Ben sharkey, a graduate student in the planetary sciences department at the University of Arizona and lead author of the research.
After carefully observing the asteroid, Sharkey and his colleagues discovered that the spectrum of Kamo`oalewa was very similar to that of the fragments of lunar rock obtained during the Apollo missions. This undoubtedly seemed a great indication that the asteroid was a fragment of the Moon that had detached from our satellite. “It is easier to explain that it comes from the Moon than other ideas,” he said. Sharkey, although it seems that will be necessary “more observations“To be able to affirm it emphatically.
SIts composition is not the only thing that shows that it could have a lunar origin, it also seems to indicate its curious orbit, since it is an asteroid that orbits the Sun but is much closer to Earth than other asteroids. “It is highly unlikely that a near-Earth asteroid spontaneously move in a quasi-satellite orbit like the Kamo`oalewa, ”said Renu Malhotra, a professor of planetary sciences at the University of Arizona and a co-author of the study..
According Malhotra, the asteroid’s orbit will last another 300 years, so we still have room to know where it came from. If the lunar theory is confirmed, eThe next step for astronomersit will be try to find out how and when this asteroid separated from our satellite.