Asteroid that skimmed past Earth was pulling its own moon

About 16 per cent of near-Earth asteroids are carrying moons, Nasa says

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The Independent Online

The asteroid that buzzed past Earth last night was carrying its own moon with it, Nasa scientists have said.

The asteroid came very close to us in space terms — about 745,000 miles away, or just over three times the distance to the moon — and as Nasa scientists watched it they saw that 2004 BL86 had its own moon.

The asteroid itself is about 325 meters across, and the moon is about 70 meters across.

About 16 per cent of the asteroids that Nasa classes as near-Earth have a smaller asteroid orbiting them, Nasa said, with some carrying two moons.

The moon was picked up in radar images taken by Nasa’s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone in California.

But it also flew past close enough for amateur astronomers to catch it through binoculars.

It is the closest an asteroid of this size is expected to come until 2027, and 2004 BL86 itself won’t come this near to the Earth for another 200 years.

Nasa watches asteroids as they fly around space to keep earth protected.