Among the objects that are captured by the gravitational force of the Earth there is not only the Moon or asteroids and comets but also other objects defined by astronomers as “mini-moons.” These objects, unlike asteroids and comets, do not “immerse” or come very close to the Earth’s atmosphere, at least for a certain period. In the end, in fact, they succumb to gravity and crash into the atmosphere or on Earth, or manage to escape.
These are objects, called temporarily captured orbiters (TCO) that can be considered as natural satellites of the Earth, real miniature moons, as well as a natural subgroup of the so-called near-Earth objects (NEO). They are quite rare so much that, to date, only one has been registered, called 2006 RH120, an object sighted in 2006 just as it circled around our planet, which then continued to do for about 11 months before escaping gravity of the Earth advancing into space.
When attracted to the gravitational force of the Earth, they become fireballs and crash into our planet. Just in 2014, a fireball miniluna was found crashing towards Earth. In a new study, published in the Astronomical, a group of researchers announces that they have identified another fireball miniluna.
They did not see it directly but consulted the data of the Australian Desert Fireball Network, a database in which there are data collected by a system of various cameras arranged throughout the country precisely to identify objects of this type that approach the Earth.
By studying the trajectories and the photographs themselves, the researchers understood that it was an object that orbited around the Earth for a certain period before passing through its atmosphere and crashing. According to the same astronomers, in the near future many other objects of this kind will be identified.
The object was then identified with the code name of DN160822_03 and crashed in the desert of South Australia.