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Detection of a mini moon that could crash into Earth

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2022 NX 1, a 5 to 10 m wide mini-moon that has already been attracted to Earth several times, could crash between 2075 and 2122.

Last year, two amateur astronomers Grzegorz Duszanowicz and Jordi Camarasa discovered a object flying around the Earth but not enough for an orbit. The strange object has been named 2022 NX 1. At that time, they thought it could be an asteroid temporarily attracted by Earth’s gravity, but it could also just be a rocket fragment.

Simulation of asteroids flying near Earth.
Simulation of asteroids flying near Earth.

Simulation of asteroids flying near Earth. (Photo: Naeblys)

New research in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics confirmed, 2022 NX 1 is a mini Moon and is likely to crash into Earth at the end of this century, Science IFL reported on February 21. New research was carried out by expert R. de la Fuente Marcos from the Complutense University of Madrid and colleagues.

In addition to the Moon, the Earth sometimes “catches” other objects. They are called mini moon, wandered into the gravitational zone of the Earth and lingered there for a short time. However, humans also launch thousands of artificial satellites and rocket fragments into orbit, making them very difficult to distinguish.

2022 NX 1 was discovered on July 2, 2022 from the Moonbase South observatory, Namibia. According to estimates, this object will come closest to Earth on June 26, 2022.

Experts assess, 2022 NX 1 has a 1.2% probability of colliding with Earth between 2075 and 2122. With a diameter estimated between 5 and 10 m, this mini Moon will not cause too much damage, but could lead to an event similar to that of Chelyabinsk. The event occurred on February 15, 2013, when an asteroid approximately 18 m wide suddenly exploded in the sky over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The shockwave from the explosion shattered windows in six towns and left 1,500 people in need of medical treatment.

In the new study, scientists used giant telescope Gran Telescopio CanariasSpain, to observe 2022 NX 1. They confirmed that its spectrum does not look artificial and is not a mass of material ejected from Earth’s main Moon.

2022 NX 1 is an asteroid and is referred to as a mini Moon, “captured” by Earth for 21 days. This time is not enough for it to complete an orbit around the Earth. Previously, the 2022 NX 1 was temporarily shut down at least twice in 1980 and 1981. Experts estimate that it will find itself in this situation again around 2051.

2022 NX 1 is significantly larger than previously confirmed mini-Moons. For example, the CD3 Mini Moon 2020 has a maximum length of only 3.5m. 2022 NX 1 is a K-type asteroid, while previous mini-Moons were V-type asteroids. “The discovery of 2022 NX 1 suggests that the mini-Moons could be larger than a few meters and that they also belong to different groups in terms of surface composition”concluded the research team.

Article source: VnExpress

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2022 NX 1, a 5 to 10 m wide mini-moon that has already been attracted to Earth several times, could crash between 2075 and 2122.

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