Thursday, December 2

The Moon has a son: it measures 40 meters in diameter and follows us 14.5 million kilometers away

Luna you want to be a mother / and you can’t find wanting / that makes you a woman. / Tell me, silver moon / What do you intend to do with a skin child? “I never thought that I would start a piece by Engadget with a Mecano song, but like never wrote Don Miguel de Cervantes: You will see things, friend Sancho, that will make the stones fable. And it is that the Moon, wise like no other, seems to have taken note of the advice of Jose María Cano **. It seems that he has a son **; however, this son is made of the same materials as her.

The history of Kamo’oalewa (or 2016 HO3) is curious. It was discovered in 2016 by the PanSTARRS Hawaiian, a telescope designed to cover large amounts of the night sky and identify asteroids or comets that may pose a danger to the planet. The Kamo’oalewa is nothing of the kind. It is more of a quasi-satellite with a very faint glow (“4 million times fainter than the dimmest star the human eye can see“) and with an orbit so eccentric that it can only be seen for a few weeks during the month of April.

During these years, a team of astronomers from the University of Arizona have been analyzing the small asteroid between 40 and 60 meters in diameter. What they publish this week in ‘Nature Communications Earth and Environment’ the thing is it has a good chance of being a miniature moon that accompanies us about 14.5 million kilometers.

And when I say “miniature moon” I mean it literally. On the one hand, the asteroid “reflects sunlight in a way more typical of minerals found on the Moon (silicates) than the most common asteroids ”, Explain Benjamin Sharley to the SINC agency. On the other hand, its orbit is also much more similar to ours (or that of the Moon) than to that of other asteroids and comets that surround us in space.

It is clear that, as the researchers acknowledge, until we have more information (or are able to go to it and do a geological “paternity test”), it may well be that the Kamo’oalewa is simply one more asteroid that got hooked. to us at some point in history. However, it would be a colossal chance by composition and trajectory. To this day, in fact, as we already know that the ejection of lunar materials by the impact of meteorites is a real phenomenon, the idea that it is a little moon fits perfectly.

Image | Addy Graham and University of Arizona

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