An artist’s illustration of asteroids flying by Earth.
An asteroid has been trailing Earth around the sun since 100 BC,astronomers estimate. The space rock first gives the impression that it is a different moon, however it is really circling the sun, not Earth.
That makes this asteroid a “quasi-moon” or “fake moon.”
An asteroid has been following Earth around the sun for the last two millennia, and astronomers just noticed it.
Scientists first discovered the space rock, called 2023 FW13, in March using the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii.
The asteroid seemed to be circling our planet at first, which would have made it another moon.
But this tailgating asteroid is actually orbiting the sun, the space news website Sky & Telescope reported. It just happens to be traveling at roughly the same path and pace as our planet.
“Earth plays essentially no role in its motion,” Alan Harris, a scientist specializing in near-Earth objects at the Space Science Institute, told Sky & Telescope. “[It’s] in no way associated with Earth other than by chance.”
That makes 2023 FW13 a “quasi-moon,” or a “fake moon.” For More Information….
What makes this fake moon unique
Since they normally only orbit Earth for a few decades, this quasi-moon is rare. Based on information they have obtained on the asteroid’s orbit, astronomers have estimated that it has been orbiting our planet since roughly 100 BC, or the year Julius Caesar was born.
Other observing facilities verified the asteroid’s presence in April and the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union approved it as a known object said by the Space.com,. French astronomer and author Adrien Coffinet made the discovery’s original announcement at that time.
The asteroid which is almost 20 meters long and the size of a semi truck is 9 million miles away from Earth. The moon, which we all know and love, is around 238,855 miles away from Earth. It’s unlikely that it will hit Earth, according to Harris.
The good news, he said, is that an orbit like this doesn’t result in an impact trajectory “out of the blue.”
The Earth has previously had more moons. The Pan-STARRS telescope discovered a sneaky rock satellite in 2016 that could be a fragment of the moon—the big one that we can all see in the sky. There is now just one moon that is significant to our existence on Earth.