Astronomers have recently discovered a ‘quasi-moon’ called ‘2023 FW13’ that orbits the Earth but is actually gravitationally bound by the Sun.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About 2023 FW13
- What are quasi-moons?
About 2023 FW13:
- Designation: Asteroid 2023 FW13 has been classified as a quasi-satellite or quasi-moon.
- Rarity: It is one of the few known quasi-moons or satellites in our solar system.
- Discovery: The asteroid was identified by experts using the Pan-STARRS telescope located on Hawaii’s Haleakala volcano.
- Long-duration: It has been in Earth’s vicinity since 100 BC and is projected to continue circling our planet for at least another 1,500 years, until AD 3700.
- Synchronized orbit: The newfound asteroid, 2023 FW13, follows an orbit around the sun that is in sync with Earth’s orbit.
- Diameter: Preliminary estimates suggest that its diameter ranges from 10 to 20 meters.
- Quasi-satellite status: Although it is not gravitationally bound to Earth like our Moon, its unusual orbit causes it to occasionally circle our planet, earning it the designation of a quasi-satellite or quasi-moon.
- Proximity to Earth: At its closest point in the slightly elliptical orbit around Earth, the asteroid comes within approximately 223,693 miles (360,000 km) of our planet.
What are quasi-moons?
- Quasi-moons are objects that exhibit characteristics similar to moons but are not true natural satellites of a planet.
- They are typically small celestial bodies, such as asteroids or comets, that temporarily enter into a gravitational relationship with a larger planet.
- Quasi-moons follow complex and irregular orbits around the planet, often influenced by the gravitational pull of both the planet and the Sun.
- These objects can stay in the vicinity of the planet for extended periods, sometimes resembling the motion of a moon, but eventually continue on their own trajectory.
- Quasi-moons provide valuable opportunities for scientific study and offer insights into the dynamics of celestial bodies in our solar system.
Source: The Hindu