Did you know that the Moon isn’t the only natural satellite of our planet? In fact, Earth has quite a “few” moons that orbit it. The newly found “moon” is in fact a 490ft asteroid that takes a year to orbit the sun and due to its peculiar path, asteroid 2014 OL339 appears to orbit around Earth.
This new celestial object was discovered accidentally in 2014 by astronomers in Chile. When looking for Earth, it appears as if asteroid 2014 OL339 is in orbit around our planet. The object was discovered by astronomer Farid Char of the Chilean University of Antofagasta.
Even though Earth’s most faithful companion for over 4 billion years has been or “MOON”, there is another object that appears to masquerade as our planet’s companion.
According to Rebecca Boyle writing in New Scientist, 2014 OL339 has been travelling near to our planet for about 775 years and it will continue to do so for another 165 years.
Object 2014 OL339 takes around 364.92 days to complete a trip around our Star, which means that Earth’s newly discovered “Moon” and our planet are in “resonant orbits.”
2014 OL339 isn’t the only object to orbit Earth as there are a number of other space rocks that have been “attracted” by our planet.
3753 Cruithne which is a 5km asteroid is another object that can’t let go of Earth. Cruithne was discovered in 1986, but scientists uncovered its mysterious path recently, when in 199 they were able to confirm their measurements.
Planet Earth also has a number of mini moons which are basically very small asteroids that have been “captured” by Earth’s gravitational pull. Three years ago, in 2012, a group of scientists for the University of Hawaii at Manoa calculated that at any given time Earth has more than one moon. To come to this conclusion, they used a supercomputer which simulated the passage of around 10 million asteroids past our planet. This means that Earth has in fact not one, but a big number of companions that travel with it.
Scientists hope that one they, they will capture one of the”quasi moons” that are found orbiting our planet as these space rocks could offer valuable information about how our solar system formed, and what it looked like 4.6 billion years ago.