The Horseshoe Orbit Asteroid

Asteroid 2010 SO16 follows an orbit close to the orbit of Earth. Sometimes it’s a little closer to the Sun at about 0.996 AU and sometimes it’s a little farther from the Sun at 1.004 AU. When the orbit is inside that of Earth, the asteroid travels faster than Earth and slowly catches up to Earth. But as it catches up to Earth, the gravity of Earth pulls it outward in its orbital path and it slows down. At this slower speed, it now falls back away from Earth. Eventually Earth, now moving faster, catches up to the asteroid and a reverse of the former transition occurs. The asteroid is again moved by the gravity of Earth, but this time it is pulled inside the orbit of Earth and it speeds up again, pulling away from Earth. Eventually, it again threatens to lap Earth and the cycle repeats.

Asteroid 2010 SO16 is following Earth in its orbit around sun – [earthsky.org]

Astronomers from the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland have found that a recently discovered asteroid has been following the Earth in its motion around the sun for at least the past 250,000 years, and may be intimately related to the origin of our planet. Their research paper appears in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Asteroid Stalks Earth in Weird Horseshoe-Shaped Orbit – [space.com]

A newfound asteroid has been discovered to be trailing Earth on an oddball course: an orbit that looks a lot like a horseshoe.

The space rock, called asteroid 2010 SO16, has been following Earth as our planet orbits the sun for at least 250,000 years and is up to 1,312 feet (400 meters) wide, scientists said. It was initially spotted by NASA’s WISE infrared space observatory.

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