New 'quasi-moon' discovered near Earth has been traveling alongside our planet since 100 BC

Asteroid 2023 FW13 has just been detected by astronomers as a quasi-moon, a space rock that orbits the sun almost simultaneously with Earth.

Asteroid that follows Earth on its annual orbit of the sun has just been found by scientists.

The space rock, known as 2023 FW13, is a so-called "quasi-moon" or "quasi-satellite," which means it circles the sun in a manner similar to that of Earth but is only marginally affected by the planet's gravitational attraction. Its diameter is reported to be 50 feet (15 meters), which is around three huge SUVs parked side by side. 2023 FW13 travels around the sun and Earth simultaneously, passing by our planet about 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) away. According to NASA, the moon's diameter is 2,159 miles (3,474 km), and at its closest point in its orbit, it is 226,000 miles (364,000 km) from Earth.

The Pan-STARRS observatory, which is perched atop Hawaii's Haleakal volcano, made the first discovery of 2023 FW13 in March. The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii and two observatories in Arizona later confirmed the asteroid's existence, and on April 1 the Minor Planet Center at the International Astronomical Union, a network of scientists in charge of naming new planets, moons, and other solar system objects, officially listed the asteroid.

According to some estimates, 2023 FW13 has been orbiting Earth since at least 100 B.C. and will likely keep doing so until about the year 3700, according to Adrien Coffinet, an astronomer and journalist who first classified the asteroid as a quasi-moon after modeling its orbit.

Coffinet stated that it "seems to be the longest quasi-satellite of Earth known to date."

According to Live Science sister site Space.com, after 2023 FW13 was first discovered in March, space observers went into the data and discovered sightings of the asteroid going all the way back to 2012.

This quasi-satellite is hanging rather close to Earth, but it's not likely to collide with it.

The good news, according to astronomer Alan Harris of the Space Science Institute, is that such an orbit does not lead to an impacting trajectory "out of the blue."

The Kamo'oalewa quasi-satellite, which was identified in 2016, is another quasi-companion of Earth. In its orbit around the sun, the rock comes quite close to Earth, and a research from 2021 speculated that this asteroid may possibly be a moon piece.