Astronomers detect 'fake moon' trailing Earth since 100 BC, which is a peculiar space rock known as 2023 FW13. The renowned Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii first spotted this asteroid in March, shedding light on its elusive existence.
Initially, astronomers believed that the asteroid was orbiting Earth, suggesting the presence of a second moon. However, upon closer examination, it became apparent that 2023 FW13 was actually following a path around the sun, making it more accurately described as a "quasi-moon" or a "fake moon."
Remarkably, this celestial interloper has been mirroring Earth's trajectory and pace around the sun for approximately 2,121 years, evading detection until now. The intriguing question arises: how did it manage to remain hidden from experts for such a significant span of time?
The asteroid's inconspicuous nature, coupled with its synchronization with Earth's orbit, contributed to its stealthy presence. Its unassuming size and trajectory made it blend into the vastness of space, evading detection by telescopes and scientific scrutiny.
The fake moon taken by NASA
Only through the recent advancements in astronomical observations and the diligent efforts of researchers was this clandestine companion finally unveiled, captivating the scientific community and fueling curiosity about the mysteries of our cosmic surroundings.
In a quest to unravel the mystery of the elusive asteroid, scientists sought answers from Alan Harris, a specialist in near-Earth objects at the Space Science Institute. Harris revealed that Earth plays an insignificant role in the asteroid's motion, stating that it is "in no way associated with Earth other than by chance." This explanation solidifies why the sizable space rock has been labeled a "quasi-moon," as it trails Earth, albeit for typically shorter durations.
Nevertheless, 2023 FW13 defies convention. Astronomers have meticulously gathered data on its orbit, enabling them to calculate the extent of its companionship with our planet. Astonishingly, their findings indicate that this wandering cosmic entity has been faithfully following Earth's path since around 100 BC - an era that coincides with the birth of the Roman statesman Julius Caesar, adding an intriguing historical dimension to the revelation. The discovery astounds the scientific community, shedding light on the enigmatic and intricate relationship between celestial bodies in our solar system.
After the asteroid's existence was confirmed by other observatories, it was officially listed as a known object in April. In terms of size, the asteroid measures approximately 20 meters in length. Fortunately, it poses no threat to Earth as it maintains a safe distance. At its closest point in its orbit, it remains a distant nine million miles away from our planet.
The likelihood of a collision between Earth and the asteroid is considered to be extremely low, according to Alan Harris. He reassured that the asteroid's orbit does not indicate a trajectory that would result in an unexpected impact.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time astronomers have come across a potential extra moon for Earth. In 2016, the same observatory in Hawaii, Pan-STARRS, detected a stray rock that could have been a fragment of our original moon, rather than a quasi-moon like the current asteroid. However, no confirmed second moon has been identified, allowing us to continue cherishing and marveling at the one and only moon that graces our night sky.