The moon has been a muse for writers, singers, poets, historians and scientists alike. It now seems that it will have to, for a temporary period, share its attention with a newly discovered minimoon.

A minimoon, according to Live Science, is a temporarily captured object, like a space rock, that got caught in Earth’s orbit for several months or years before shooting off into the distant solar system again (or burning up in our planet’s atmosphere).

Researchers from the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona have found 2020 CD3, a small, rare celestial object that has gotten caught in earth’s orbit and is circling our planet. Making it the earth’s natural satellite and thus, our second moon. We can’t wait for some singer to make a rhyme for this little guy.

A asteroid has got caught in the Earth’s orbit making it a natural satellite of our planet, similar to our moon.

It is around 1.9-3.5 metres in diameter and has the surface brightness of a typical carbon-rich asteroid. Amateur astrophysicist Tony Dunn tweeted out that this minimoon has been orbiting earth from the past three years and it could be leaving the orbit anytime this year, somewhere around April. It will then continue along its way and go on to orbit the sun.

Astronomers believe that at any given point in time, there is at least one minimoon that is orbiting around the earth. So what’s the big deal about this one?

Well, barring one instance, we haven’t seen these other objects. In fact, this is only the second time we have been able to spot a minimoon. The first time astronomers saw a minimoon was in 2006 and that asteroid was called 2006 RH120. It was around 2–3 metres in diameter and orbited around the earth for 18 months. However, this asteroid orbits the sun and one every 20 years comes close enough to the earth to enter its orbit through what is called a temporary satellite capture.

A senior research specialist from NASA and the University of Arizona, Kacper Wierzchos was the first scientist to announce this discovery on 26 February.

The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center made an announcement about this discovery as well.

“Orbit integrations indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth. No evidence of perturbations due to solar radiation pressure is seen and no link to a known artificial object has been found. Further observations and dynamical studies are strongly encouraged.”

Since then, the existence of this object has been confirmed by other observatories. However, more analysis is needed to confirm that the minimoon is a rock from space and not some junk in space that is floating around the abyss.

Twitter users had something to say about this new addition: 

Looks like the minimoon got onto Twitter

A name change?

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