Most of the space "pebbles" thatpass close to the Earth, are lonely travelers making their way around the Sun and past our planet. But the asteroid 1999 KW4, which will pass next to our Earth on May 25, that is, the day after tomorrow, is somewhat different. It is believed that the large main body of the asteroid, one and a half kilometers wide, is large enough to have a smaller asteroid moon circling around it.
A double asteroid will say hello to Earth
The smaller “moon” of a larger pebble itselfitself is quite large: its diameter is more than 400 meters. If a double asteroid were a threat to the Earth, we would be in serious trouble, but fortunately this is not the case.
1999 KW4 should not be a problem for us here,on Earth, in the foreseeable future, and when it takes place next to us at the end of this week, it will happen at a quite convenient distance of 5.3 million kilometers. This is 13 times further than our Moon is.
Not so close, of course, but for astronomers,who want to learn more about this and other asteroids in our system, it will be a great gift. Observing this asteroid in the past has shown that it has a strange diamond shape, resembling other well-known asteroids like Ryugu.
Ryugu is now investigating the Hayabus probe.
How do these cosmic stones get their shapeand which processes may influence their change over time remains largely unknown. In the case of 1999 KW4, the origin of a smaller “moon” that revolves around the main body is of great interest to astronomers and planetologists. What is it: a piece of a larger asteroid that broke off a long time ago, or a rogue asteroid pulled by the gravitational pull of a larger body?
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