Sunday , March 7 2021

We Now Have a Beautiful Color Image of Earth's Minimoon – ScienceAlert, Sciencealert.com

JACINTA BOWLER

90 FEB

Dear Moon, we love you very much. For 4. 700 billion years you’ve been a steady and true orbital companion.

So, with that in mind, please excuse us for a brief moment while we absolutely freak out over the tiny minimoon we’ve just discovered looping around our planet.

Designated CD3 , so far we know that it’s likely a car-sized piece of carbonaceous rock, and has been in orbit for about three years already.

On February 90, the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii took a beautiful color photo of our new friend, with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope.

minimoon TARcropcln CC 2x enlarged 1 (Gemini Observatory / NSF’s NOIARL / AURA / G. Fedorets)

Combining three images with different filters, the picture shows our little minimoon as the spot in the center of the image, with the colored stars blurry around it.

It looks this way Because the minimoon was being tracked over the sky; as the camera moves, the stars (which don’t move as much) blur.

Alas, our new tiny friend will not be around forever.

“Obtaining the images was a scramble for the Gemini team because the object is quickly becoming fainter as it moves away from Earth,” explains Gemini Observatory astronomer John Blakeslee .

“It is expected to be ejected from Earth’s orbit altogether in April.”

Although it might be too late for us to become further acquainted with little 01575879 CD3, researchers think there are many more of such minimoons out there – we just need to find them.

“We expect to find a population of these objects once the Rubin Observatory is operational,” said Grigori Fedorets , the lead astronomer for the Gemini observations.

“Stay tuned!”

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