The new moon is, in fact, an asteroid that has been circling the Earth and the sun for nearly 100 years.
If one moon wasn’t enough, Earth now has another smaller lunar companion as discovered and confirmed by NASA. At a mere 100 years old, the extremely small asteroid measures a tiny 120-300 feet in diameter.
The reason it is recognized as a “mini moon” is its behavoir – it currently orbits the sun and Earth in a very similar way to our official moon which NASA has now decided to confirm as an official asteroid moon, according to an Inhabitat report.
Known as ‘asteroid 2016 HO3′, it was first discovered by astronomers back in April through a telescope used by University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy. NASA expert, Paul Chodas, describes the tiny moon’s habits and why this can now be considered another moon for Earth.
“The asteroid’s loop around Earth and drift a little ahead or behind from year to year, but when they drift too far forward or backward, Earth’s gravity is just strong enough to reverse the drift and hold onto the asteroid so that it never wanders farther away than about 100 times the distance of the moon. The same effect also prevents the asteroid from approaching much closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon. In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth.”
This isn’t the first asteroid to behave in this way. The asteroid 2003 YN107 was found orbiting Earth in a similar way but eventually disappeared and although asteroid 2016 HO3 has been around for nearly a century, in terms of universe timelines, it is extremely new and will most likely disappear although not for a few more centuries at least.