Lunar-like silicate material forms the Earth quasi-satellite (469219) 2016 HO3 Kamoʻoalewa
Little is known about Earth quasi-satellites, a class of near-Earth small solar system bodies that orbit the sun but remain close to the Earth, because they are faint and difficult to observe. Here we use the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) and the Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT) to conduct a comprehensive physical characterization of quasi-satellite (469219) Kamoʻoalewa and assess its affinity with other groups of near-Earth objects. We find that (469219) Kamoʻoalewa rotates with a period of 28.3 (+1.8/−1.3) minutes and displays a reddened reflectance spectrum from 0.4-2.2 microns. This spectrum is indicative of a silicate-based composition, but with reddening beyond what is typically seen amongst asteroids in the inner solar system. We compare the spectrum to those of several material analogs and conclude that the best match is with lunar-like silicates. This interpretation implies extensive space weathering and raises the prospect that Kamo'oalewa could comprise lunar material.
Communications Earth and Environment
- Pub Date:
- December 2021
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Published in Nature Communications Earth and Environment