Space exploration – Wobbling stars: Experience the mysterious life of common Earth asteroids orbiting Earth – BBC News English

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Diagram of Earth, Asteroids and Moon

In the past few years, scientists have been exploring a question: Where did the wobbly star (Kamo’oalewa) come from.

This asteroid was discovered in 2016, and so far astronomers only know that it is an asteroid that is in a common orbit with Earth, but nothing else.

However, new research appears to have found more clues to explore its mysterious origin: the asteroid is likely to be part of the moon.

Benjamin Sharkey is an astronomer at the University of Arizona and one of the lead authors of a new research report recently published in Nature. “If it’s a really normal asteroid, it looks very different from the normal asteroid we expected,” he said.

Juan Sanchez, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, was also involved in this research work. He told the BBC: “The oscillating star could be the debris that bounced off the moon after hitting a meteorite.”

To find out the basic features of an oscillating star, the only way is through sampling and testing. This may be possible in the next 10 years, but scientists believe that the theory that it came from the moon must be established for several reasons.

So, what exactly is a swing star?

a “satellite”

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The Super Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona is a tool for scientists to observe wobbly stars.

Scientists have given it a Hawaiian name, which literally means “the oscillating part of the heavens” (Kamo’oalewa).

With a length of about 40 meters, it is strictly classified as a “satellite” rather than a technically strict “satellite”.

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The orbit of asteroid “Wobbling Star” 2016HO3 contrasts with that of Earth, where it is sometimes in front of the Earth and closer to the Sun, and sometimes behind and further from the Sun.

Sanchez explained: “The satellite, as a planet Earth, is a celestial body in the same orbit as the Earth. Therefore, although the celestial body also revolves around the Sun, it is still close to our Earth.”

The difference from the Moon that orbits the Earth is that the wobbly star does not orbit the Earth, but rather orbits parallel to the Sun. Therefore, even if our planet disappears, this celestial body will continue to move in its current orbit.

So far, scientists have discovered five Earth satellites, but the only one that has actually been studied is the wobbly star.

“Observation is easier than other known satellites,” Sanchez said. “Every April this celestial body becomes bright enough to be observed from Earth with a large telescope.”

Many other satellites are less visible and cannot be analyzed.

very special rock

When observing this asteroid, astronomers found that it was unusually red, indicating that it contained metallic minerals.

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Diagram of another stellar moon of Earth 2020 CD3 orbiting the Earth like a wobbling star

“What caught our attention is that compared to other near-Earth asteroids studied, the appearance of wobbly stars is much closer to the surface of our moon.”

Another basis that scientists can deduce is that the only known sample of similar rocks is the lunar sample returned by the American Apollo project to explore the moon in the 1970s.

Sanchez explained, “It caught our attention because this is the first time we’ve tried such a study. We’ve spotted a blue-colored satellite, and this celestial satellite is very close to Earth and orbits around the sun. And that makes us suspicious of this celestial body…maybe from The surface of the moon “.

Other theories suggest that the wobbling star may be part of a so-called near-Earth body, a “Trojan asteroid,” which has nothing to do with Earth or the Moon necessarily.

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However, the experts involved in this new research believe that the data in their research provides very positive support for the “part of the moon” theory.

“We are not 100% sure, and we can’t rule out that the orb is only one of the near-Earth asteroids discovered. The only way to be completely certain is to get a sample of the celestial body,” Sanchez said.

This method may not be too difficult to reach the sky.

In April 2021, at the Forum of the China Space Conference, Yi Bijian, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stated that the mission to explore small celestial bodies designed by China would be carried out in three stages within 10 years. Comet 311 will be revealed.

If China’s plan is implemented, within ten years, China will launch investigations to visit the wobbly star and Comet 311, and bring samples.

At that time, the mystery of whether the oscillating star came from the moon would find an obvious answer.

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