Astronomers at Catalina Sky Survey have spotted an asteroid and have decided to call it mini-moon. Named 2020 CD3, it is a small chunk of likely carbonaceous rock between 1.9 and 3.5 metres in diameter. And what is surprising is that the rock's trajectory indicates it has been in the orbit for around three years already. So, now it seems that the Earth has two moons. The Mirror Planet Center which monitors the presence of small bodies in space said that it is possible that the asteroid was perhaps caught up by the earth’s gravitational pull and has been circling our planet ever since. Is Earth Unique? Water Discovered for First Time in Atmosphere of an Exoplanet.
Astronomer Kacper Wierzchos at the University of Arizona-funded Catalina Sky Survey took to Twitter saying, "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."
Meet the New Mini-Moon:
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
The International Astronomical Union’s Mirror Planet Center in an official release says, "Orbit integrations (Gray, Project Pluto; Micheli, ESA NEO Coordination Centre; Naidu, CNEOS; and Spoto, MPC) indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth. No evidence of perturbations due to solar radiation pressure is seen, and no link to a known artificial object has been found." World’s Oldest Meteor Crater Formed 2.229 Billion Years Ago in Western Australia: Scientist.
The discovery was made by US astronomers Theodore Pruyne and Kacper Wierzchos, using the telescope at Mount Lemmon Observatory on February 15. This is only the second confirmed mini-moon that we’ve seen Earth capture. The first was an object known as 2006 RH120, which was present with us a few times between September 2006 and June 2007 before being ejected.