Astronomers have found more evidence that A near-Earth asteroid is a piece thrown from the MoonLive Science reported.
Asteroid Kamo’oalewa (Kamo’oalewa) – a Hawaiian name meaning “oscillating fragment” – is as large as a Ferris wheel and orbits within 14.4 million kilometers of Earth every April. Since it was discovered in 2016, experts have wondered about its origins. A 2021 analysis shows that Kamo’oaleua’s composition is similar to that of the Moon.
New research, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, describes a possible way in which an impact from an ancient asteroid could have sent the space rock on its current trajectory. Scientists suggest that there may be more lunar fragments moving around the solar system.
“We have now determined that the Moon is the more likely source of Kamo’oaleua,” lead author Renu Malhotra, a University of Arizona planetary scientist, said in a statement.
Two unusual orbital properties have attracted the attention of astronomers to study Kamo’oaleua. First, as a “quasi-satellite” of Earth, it is so close to our planet that it appears as if it is orbiting it, although its actual orbital partner is the Sun. Second, the asteroid is predicted to stick close to Earth for millions of years, while many near-planet objects stick around for only decades.
These anomalies led astronomers to perform an analysis of the asteroid’s spectra in 2021. The light emitted and absorbed by Kamo’oaleua indicates that it is likely made of lunar rock.
By simulating asteroid impacts on the Moon and the gravitational forces the ejected pieces are subjected to, the scientists found a small chance that some of the rocks ended up in earth orbit. Astronomers had previously expected lunar material to either fall back to the surface of our moon or fall to Earth, but not to orbit the Sun.