Earth has acquired a brand new moon the size of a car, according to astronomers who detected the object orbiting around our planet.
The International Astronomical Union’s Small Planet Center is a scientific group that monitors the spatial positions of small orbital bodies. Last month, they announced that a new object, designated 2020 CD3, has been orbiting Earth for the past three years.
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Astronomers Teddy Pruyne and Kacper Wierzchos discovered the new object on the night of February 15. Then, they posted about the news on Twitter.
“Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3,” Wierzchos tweeted. “On the night of Feb. 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object. Here are the discovery images.”
BIG NEWS (thread 1/3). Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3. On the night of Feb. 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object. Here are the discovery images. pic.twitter.com/zLkXyGAkZl— Kacper Wierzchos (@WierzchosKacper) February 26, 2020
This is just the second asteroid known to orbit our planet – the first, 2006 RH120, hung around between September 2006 and June 2007 before escaping.
The new-found object is about 1.9-3.5 meters (6-11 feet) in diameter, roughly the size of a car.
Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said the car-sized object was not the Telsa Roadster he launched into space in 2018, which is now orbiting the Sun.
“It’s not mine,” he tweeted.
It’s not mine— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2020
The mini-moon’s orbit, however, is unstable and will eventually leave Earth’s gravitational field.
“It is heading away from the Earth-moon system as we speak,” Grigori Fedorets, a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, told New Scientist magazine and was likely to escape in April.