Researchers are targeting the small celestial body Kamo’oalewa because of its unusual orbit. You discover something surprising.
TUCSON — It’s possible that the Kamowaleua celestial body that accompanies Earth through space is actually part of the moon — even if almost everything else is against it. A research team from the University of Arizona has discovered how part of the Moon could still end up in roughly the same solar orbit as Earth.
Kamo’oalewa was discovered in 2016. It is a small asteroid that orbits the Sun in an orbit similar to Earth’s – although it appears to orbit Earth. This is why Kamo’oalewa is considered a “semi-satellite.”
|Asteroid and semi-satellite of the Earth|
|On April 27, 2016 via the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope|
Back in 2021, a research group found that Kamoalewa’s composition is more similar to the Moon than other asteroids. Based on this, the team hypothesized that the Earth’s quasi-satellite might have been knocked out of the Moon by a meteorite impact. The new study, In the specialized magazine Earth and Environment Communications published The theory is supported by this old study.
Could Kamoalewa be part of the moon one day?
However, there are also those parts of the research community that believe it is impossible for Kamoalewa to be part of the Moon one day. Until now, research has assumed that only asteroids orbiting outside the orbit of Mars are possible sources of near-Earth asteroids. But this could change. “We now find that the Moon is the most likely source of Kamuwalewa,” says planetary scientist Renu Malhotra, co-author of the new study.
What is a quasi-satellite?
A quasatellite accompanies a larger planet through space. Its orbit around the Sun has the same orbital period as the planet and almost the same orbital axis. This makes the quasatellite appear to be orbiting the planet, when in fact it is orbiting the sun. Quasatellites are primarily affected by the Sun’s gravity. In contrast, the Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite, is affected by the gravity of the Earth and the Sun.
Meteorite impacts on the Moon may have toppled Kamwalewa
Throughout its history, the Moon has been repeatedly bombarded by meteorites. Thus, numerous craters were formed, some of which can be seen on the surface with the naked eye. Such impacts expel material from the moon. However, most of it falls on the moon’s surface, as Malhotra explains in one of them notice Their university. Other fragments fall to Earth in the form of meteorites. However, the new study shows that a small portion of the Moon’s fragments could escape the Moon and Earth’s gravity and orbit the Sun like a near-Earth asteroid.
To do this, the research team simulated different impacts on the moon and looked at the paths of falling fragments. Most of them failed to reach the proper orbit. Typically, research assumes that lunar fragments that have enough kinetic energy to escape the Earth-Moon system have too much energy to land in an Earth-like orbit. But at least 6.6% of the simulated fragments managed to reach a suitable orbit. So it seems possible that the lunar segment could become a quasi-satellite of the Earth.
Earth’s quasi-satellite: Kamo’oalewa has an unusual orbit
Now lead study author José Daniel Castro Cisneros and his team want to determine what conditions enabled Kamualoa to reach its unusual orbit. The group also wants to know exactly how old the quasatellite is.
The fact that Kamuwalewa is being studied so closely is entirely thanks to its unusual orbit, recalls researcher Malhotra, who participated in both studies. “If it had been a typical near-Earth asteroid, no one would have thought to look at its spectrum, and we wouldn’t have known that Kamualoa could be part of the moon.” (unpaid bill)
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