Astronomers have recently discovered a new asteroid, 2023 FW13, which has been identified as an ancient companion of Earth. The asteroid has been categorized as a quasi-moon, and it has been orbiting near our planet since 100 BC. What’s more, the asteroid is expected to continue orbiting Earth until AD 3700, which indicates that it will accompany our planet in its journey through space for several millennia.
This asteroid is no ordinary one as it has an intricate orbit that takes it halfway to Mars and then halfway to Venus during its journey. The Pan-STARRS survey telescope, located on a dormant volcano in Hawaii, detected the asteroid on March 28, along with various other cosmic objects such as a comet as massive as Mount Everest. The telescope captures images of the sky to discover new planets, asteroids, and stars.
Astronomers have noted that asteroid 2023 FW13 shares a comparable orbit with another quasi-moon, known as Kamoʻoalewa (2016 HO3). The asteroid is estimated to be 65 feet (20 meters) wide and is largely influenced by the Sun during its orbit, despite being in the vicinity of Earth. Nevertheless, Earth slightly disturbs its orbit, causing it to remain near our planet. While it circles around the Sun, it orbits the star at the centre of our solar system in the same amount of time as Earth. Each year, the asteroid comes within 9 million miles of Earth, which is significantly further away than the Moon’s closest point to Earth at 223,693 miles. There are no concerns about asteroid 2023 FW13 colliding with Earth or causing any problems for our planet.
The asteroid’s Earth-close orbit was initially discovered by Adrien Coffinet, a journalist with Futara. There is a possibility that future expeditions to the quasi-moon could provide us with additional information regarding its size and composition.
The newfound asteroid 2023 FW13 is a quasi-moon of Earth, and it circles the Sun in sync with our planet. The space rock has an elaborate orbit that “sweeps out halfway to Mars and in halfway to Venus,” as reported by Sky & Telescope’s David Chandler. The asteroid was first spotted on March 28 by scientists using the Pan-STARRS survey telescope, which snaps pictures of the night sky from its perch atop Haleakala, a dormant volcano on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.
After passing all checks, its discovery was officially announced on April 1. Since then, citizen astronomers scouring archival data have found sightings of the asteroid since 2012. Using all that data, they calculated past and future orbits of the space rock, and think it has been in our general neighborhood since 100 B.C.
2023 FW13 is not the first object of its kind discovered in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood. Astronomers think the space rock’s orbit is similar to that of that asteroid Kamo’oalewa, also known as 2016 HO3, another Earth quasi-satellite spotted in 2016 that never drifts too far from the planet.
Despite being a quasi-moon of Earth, 2023 FW13 does not pose a threat to our planet. While the asteroid’s size and composition remain to be explored, its discovery has provided scientists with a fascinating insight into the intricate workings of our solar system. The asteroid is likely to accompany our planet in its journey through space for several millennia, making it a unique and intriguing cosmic object that is worth studying further.