Precisely 7 million kilometers were between Earth and the asteroid Florence, a cosmic mass that recently passed to the lake of our planet. NASA scientists monitored the event when they noticed something extraordinary, the asteroid Florence is so large that it has not only one, but two moons.
If the passage of a large asteroid passing near Earth was already a cause for alarm, the fact that Florence is so large that it has its own two moons still makes it more fascinating to science.
“Although many asteroids were known to have passed closer to Earth than Florence, they were all smaller. Florence is the largest asteroid ever to have passed our planet since this NASA program began, which detects and follows this type of asteroid”, said NASA researcher Paul Chodas to Science Alert.
Although with little quality and definition, the passage of the asteroid Florence was captured by the NASA radars, who shared the images with the world. With a diameter of 4.4 kilometers, Florence has two moons with 100 and 300 meters with eight-hour orbits for the nearest moon and 22 to 27 hours for the furthest.
This is only the third time that a triple asteroid, that is, with two moons, passes near Earth. Prior to Florence, it had been the turn of the 1994 asteroid to pass Earth by 2009 and the 2001 asteroid SN263 in 2008.
These observations also confirmed that Florence, discovered in March 1981, measures 4.5 km in diameter.
Florence is therefore the largest celestial object that has been so close to our planet since the discovery of the first asteroid in the vicinity of Earth, more than a century ago.
It is expected that Florence will return to the vicinity of our planet in October 2024, but will only be so close again in 500 years, according to the agency.