Moon is the Earth’s natural satellite, all of us know that already. But what if we tell you that earth has captured a new, temporary, mini-moon? Yes, that’s right.
This new mini-moon is somewhere between the size of a cow and a hippopotamus. It’s an asteroid to be precise and it’s called 2020 CD3 with a diameter between 1.9 – 3.5m.
The new moon that is temporarily bound to Earth was bound to Earth was discovered on Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre. The organisation is responsible for the designation of minor bodies in the solar system.
The astronomers Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Prune working at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, US had first detected the asteroid on February 15.
In a tweet, Weirzchos described the discovery as “big news”.
“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,” he tweeted.
He further said that it was a big deal because out of ~ 1 million known asteroids, this was just the second asteroid known to orbit Earth.
The first one was 2006 RH120, which was also discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey.
The mini-moons are pulled into the Earth’s orbit due to the Earth’s, the moon’s, and the sun’s gravity at the same time, which produces irregular orbits.
The astronomer has estimated that the ‘mini-moon’ entered Earth’s orbit some three years ago.
Meanwhile, the mini-moon is likely to stick around the Earth from October 2020 to May 2021. Within this period, the heavenly body is expected to edge closer to us, which will give us the chance to make more detailed observations and settle the matter of its origin for good.