July 2, 2022

The closest asteroid to Earth may be the lost fragment of the Kamo’oalewa Moon

An artist’s view of the Earth’s semi-satellite Camo’Oleva near the Earth-Moon system. Astronomers using the large binocular telescope have shown that this may be a lost piece of the moon. Credit: ft Graham / University of Arizona

A team of researchers led by the University of Arizona thinks the nearest asteroid Kamo`oalewa may actually be a small moon.

The closest asteroid to Earth is Camoleva According to a new study published, it may be a fragment of our moon Natural Contacts Earth and the Environment By a team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona.

Kamo`Oleva A semi-satellite – a subset of asteroids orbiting the Sun but close to Earth. Not much is known about these products because they are dizzy and hard to notice. Kamo`Oleva Discovered by the PanSTARRS telescope in Hawaii in 2016, and the name – found in a Hawaiian creation mantra – refers to an offspring traveling in its own way. The asteroid is approximately the size of a Ferris wheel – 150 to 190 feet in diameter – and is approximately 9 million miles from Earth.

Due to its orbit, Kamo`oalewa can only be observed from Earth for a few weeks each April. Its relatively small size can only be seen by one of the largest telescopes on Earth. Using a large telescope operated by UArizona on Mount Graham in southern Arizona, a team of astronomers led by planetary science graduate student Ben Sharkey discovered that the pattern of light reflected by Camolova, known as the spectrum, matches lunar rocks. NASAApollo’s missions are said to have originated from the moon.

It is not yet certain how the team broke down. The reason is, in part, that there are no other known asteroids with a lunar origin.

“I saw every asteroid spectrum close to Earth, and nothing matched,” said Sharkey, the paper’s primary author.

The discussion about the origin of Kamo`oalewa between Sharkey and his advisor UArizona Associate Professor Vishnu Reddy led to another three-year hunt for a credible explanation.

Reddy, a co-author who launched the project in 2016, said, “We were skeptical of death, COVID-19 With the shutdown of the telescope, the team discovered the final part of the puzzle in 2021.

“This spring we got the much-needed follow-up observations, ‘Aha this is real,’ Sharkey said.” It’s easier to explain with the moon than any other idea. “

The orbit of Kamo`oalewa is another clue to its lunar appearance. Its orbit is similar to that of the Earth, but with a slight inclination. According to Renu Malhotra, co-author of the study, UArizona Professor of Planetary Science, who led the study’s orbital analysis section, its orbit is not typical of asteroids near Earth.

“It is not very possible for a garden-type asteroid near Earth to spontaneously move into a semi-satellite orbit like Kamo`oalewa,” he said. “It’s not going to be very long in this particular orbit, it’s only about 300 years into the future, and we estimate it came into this orbit about 500 years ago,” Malhotra said. His laboratory is working on a paper to further explore the asteroid’s appearance.

Kamo`oalewa is about 4 million times fainter than the faintest star visible to the human eye in the dark sky.

“These challenging observations were triggered by the enormous light-collecting power of the dual 8.4-meter telescopes of large telescopes,” said Al Conrad, co-editor of the telescope’s staff scientist research.

Note: “Moon-like silicate material forms Earth’s semi-satellite (469219) 2016 HO3 Kamoʻoalewa” 11 November 2021, Communication Earth and the Environment.
DOI: 10.1038 / s43247-021-00303-7

The study also includes data from the Lowell Discovery Telescope on Floxstop, Arizona. Other co-authors in the paper include Olga Kunn, Christian Violet, Barry Rothberg and David Thompson, the large binocular telescope; Audrey Truine of Lowell Laboratory and Juan Sanchez of the Institute of Planetary Sciences in Tucson. The research was funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Monitor program.