"On the night of February 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object", wrote astronomer Kacper Wierzchos on Twitter.
Although it's only just been discovered researchers think the mini-moon has been orbiting Earth for three years and will be flung out of its orbit in April 2020. - so definitely not competition for the Moon.
Astronomers say the Earth has drawn in a tiny asteroid and temporarily pulled it into orbit, in a phenomenon that has only been recorded once before. The moon was probably about three years ago, in orbit around the planet, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union on Tuesday announced. About 4 am on February 15 at the Mount Lemmon Observatory, 9,000 feet above Tucson, Arizona, two astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey, Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne, watched as their computer screens registered a dot moving against a static background of stars. It goes into a unusual orbit around the planet due to the triple gravitational pulls of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. "It is heading away from the Earth-moon system as we speak", says Grigori Fedorets at Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom, told the New Scientist.
The asteroid has been called 2020 CD3, and it's only between 1.9 and 3.5 meters in diameter.
The asteroid is predicted to proceed orbiting Earth for a couple of more months right before breaking free and venturing back again into deep place, in which it will resume its solo journey all-around the Sunlight. And although the object poses no danger to Earth, it does show how changeable our neighborhood is. According to NBC News, a mini-moon is now revolving around the Earth. It is extremely faint - it is estimated to be only between one and six metres across - and won't be with us for much longer.
The 1st asteroid uncovered circling spherical our planet was RH120, found in 2006 by the identical Catalina Sky Survey that learned the temporary next Moon.
"Further observations and dynamical research are strongly encouraged", claimed the MPC in the announcement. No remains of any artificial element have been found, so another day we spent without the aliens sending us a present to welcome us to the neighborhood, it is only a space rock that travels through this solar system.
Meet 2020 CD3, Earth's newest possible "minimoon".
It is orbiting at a distance of more than 150,000 kilometres, or a little more than the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, and takes 377.8 days to complete each orbit.