Asteroid flying past Earth has its own moon

On Monday, January 7, the asteroid 2016 AZ8 flew just 4.5 million kilometers away from Earth. Specialists at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico recorded the approaching space rock, and using a radar, they found that the AZ8 has a moon.
According to the data obtained, the main element of the binary system is nearly spherical with a diameter of 430 meters, and its moon has a more elongated shape, similar to a 180-meter-long cigar.
Binary asteroids are not as rare as you might think. Studies show that about 15% of near-Earth asteroids have a moon. In the past they have struck Earth, forming double impact craters, like a crater in Jämtland, Sweden.
In the future, space agencies may need to deflect or destroy a binary asteroid approaching us, so the study of binary systems’ properties is important to protect the planet.


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