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Earth had a minimoon, but then it burned up in our atmosphere

4 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
Earth had a minimoon, but then it burned up in our atmosphere
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I read a paper that came out recently on a topic that had never occurred to me: For a while, the Earth had a temporary moon… but then it burned up in our atmosphere as a meteor.

When you go outside at night at a dark site and keep your eye on the say, chances are you'll see a handful of meteors every hour. These are called sporadic meteors, basically bits of rock or metal from asteroids created in impacts long ago. Ejected from the collisions, these pieces go off on their own orbits around the Sun, and sometimes their orbit intersects ours. If they cross Earth's orbit at the same time we happen to be there, they ram through our atmosphere and burn up, creating a "shooting star."

Sometimes we get meteor showers, which are in general due to material sloughed off by a comet that gets near or crosses Earth's orbit. Every year we plow through that debris stream, and we get lots of meteors.

Crash Course Astronomy: Meteors, Meteoroids, and Meteorites, Oh My!

When you see a meteor they zip pretty rapidly across the sky, burning up 90–100 kilometers above the ground. How fast hey move depends ...

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