Astronomers have released new photos of a as-yet unidentified object that has joined Earth’s orbit. The UFO created excitement earlier this week when it was revealed it was considered to be classified as a new “minimoon” after the object arrived in Earth’s orbit.
But scientists believe it is too soon to say for certain what exactly the mystery object is and further research is necessary.
This is a very compelling object and needs more data to determine what it is
Grigori Fedorets, Visiting University of Helsinki scholar
Some astronomers believe the UFO to be the artificial object.
But other experts think the anomaly could be an old satellite, or simply space debris.
Grigori Fedorets, the lead astronomer for the observations, said in a statement: “Either way this is a very compelling object and needs more data to determine what it is.”
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Earlier this week, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center announced the mystery object had been officially dubbed 2020 CD3.
Many speculated the object was a rocky asteroid, which would make the object only the second natural satellite to be spotted around the Earth, after the Moon.
The only other similar object was spotted in 2006 and has since left its orbit around the Earth.
The newly-discovered satellite will also leave Earth’s orbit in the next few months.
This has left astronomers rushing to obtain images of the object and understand its origin.
The Gemini Observatory was responsible for the new images.
Dr John Blakeslee, head of science at Gemini, said: “Obtaining the images was a scramble for the Gemini team because the object is quickly becoming fainter as it moves away from Earth.
“It is expected to be ejected from Earth’s orbit altogether in April.”
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In the picture, the object can be seen glowing at the centre, with stars streaking across because the telescope was moving to track the object as it moved around the Earth.
The image was taken on February 24, immediately after 2020 CD3 was first spotted.
Astronomers hope to obtain more images of the object to learn more about it.
Space experts in particular wish to understand how bright 2020 CD3 is shining and how much light it reflects.
If the UFO is especially dim, it is likely to be a rocky body.
However, if the object is shining brighter it is more likely to be a reflective piece of debris, such as an abandoned rocket booster.
Dr Blakeslee added: “Additional observations to refine its position will help us determine this mystery object’s orbit and its possible origin.”
Astronomers expect to find many more such objects as new ways of observing them come online.
The Gemini Observatory is part of the NASA Space Flight’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory.
This is currently preparing the Vera C Rubin Observatory, which will scan the sky with the intention of recording yet more similar objects.
Mr Fedorets in a statement; “We expect to find a population of these objects once the Rubin Observatory is operational. Stay tuned!”
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