2018 GE3

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2018 GE3
2018 GE3 orbit.png
The orbit of 2018 GE3 with 30-day markers
Discovery [1]
Discovered byCatalina Sky Srvy.
Discovery siteCatalina Stn.
Discovery date14 April 2018
(first observed only)
Designations
MPC designation2018 GE3
NEO · Apollo[1][2]
Orbital characteristics[2]
Epoch 23 March 2018 (JD 2458200.5)
Uncertainty parameter 7
Observation arc4 days
Aphelion3.3782 AU
Perihelion0.3179 AU
1.8481 AU
Eccentricity0.8280
2.51 yr (918 d)
333.94°
0° 23m 32.28s / day
Inclination8.7368°
25.412°
300.17°
Earth MOID0.0010 AU (0.3896 LD)
Mercury MOID0.0101 AU
Venus MOID0.0556 AU
Mars MOID0.0527 AU
Physical characteristics
Mean diameter
48–110 m[3]
48 m (est. at 0.24)[4]
100 m (est. at 0.05)[4]
23.813[2]

2018 GE3 is a sub-kilometer asteroid on a highly eccentric orbit, classified as a near-Earth object of the Apollo group, approximately 48–110 meters (160–360 feet) in diameter. It was first observed on 14 April 2018, by astronomers with the Catalina Sky Survey one day prior to its sub-lunar close encounter with Earth at 0.5 lunar distance.[2] It is one of the largest known asteroids (possibly the largest) in observational history to ever pass that close to Earth (also see list).

Orbit and classification[edit]

2018 GE3 is a member of the near-Earth population of asteroids known as Apollos.[1][2] Apollo asteroids cross the orbit of Earth and are the largest group of near-Earth objects with nearly 10 thousand known members. Based on an observation arc of 4 days, it orbits the Sun at a distance of 0.3–3.4 AU once every 2 years and 6 months (918 days; semi-major axis of 1.85 AU). Its orbit has an unusually high eccentricity of 0.83 and an inclination of 9° with respect to the ecliptic.[2] It is also a Mercury-, Venus- and Mars-crosser, reaching its furthest point from the Sun in the outer asteroid belt. The body's observation arc begins at Steward Observatory's Catalina Station with its first observation in April 2018.[1]

Close encounters[edit]

In observational history, and other than possibly 2002 MN and 2017 VW13, this asteroid is the largest known object to ever pass that close to Earth, as well as the Moon (also see History of closest approaches of large near-Earth objects).[a] 99942 Apophis will break both of these records when it approaches only 0.098 LD (0.000252 AU) from Earth on 13 April 2029.

2018 flyby[edit]

Trajectory past the Earth and Moon
Magnitude estimates

2018 GE3 was first observed on 14 April 2018, at 09:23 UT by astronomers at Steward Observatory's Catalina Station, Arizona, the day prior to its close encounter with Earth.

It had been more than 120 degrees from the Sun since March 2018, but was simply too far and too faint to be detected by automated surveys. Despite coming from directly away from the Sun, it was not discovered until 14 April 2018, only one day prior to its closest approach. If the most advanced survey telescopes had been looking at its location, it could have been discovered as early as 30 March. On 15 April 2018, at 06:41 UT, this object passed Earth at a nominal distance of 0.50 LD (0.001289 AU) which corresponds to a distance of 193,000 kilometres (120,000 miles), at a speed of 29.5 km/s (66,000 mph).[2][3] The object also approached the Moon at an even closer distance of 0.34 LD (0.00087 AU) a few hours later, at 09:59 UT.[2]

It was the 32nd known asteroid to flyby Earth within 1 lunar distance (LD) since the start of 2018 and 16th closest, although it was the largest known asteroid to pass within half a lunar distance. After closest approach its apparent magnitude dropped from 12 to 35 in less than 12 hours, heading towards the Sun. Coming from the opposite direction, it would have been impossible to observe before its approach. A preliminary analysis of the orbit of 2018 GE3 shows that this is the closest this particular asteroid has come to Earth since at least 1930.[3]

Historical close encounters[edit]

History of closest approaches of large near-Earth objects since 1914
(less than H 24 and 1 LD)(A)
NEO Date Approach distance in lunar distances Abs. mag
(H)
Diameter (C)
(m)
Ref (D)
Nominal(B) Minimum Maximum
(152680) 1998 KJ9 1914-12-31 0.606 0.604 0.608 19.4 279–900 data
(458732) 2011 MD5 1918-09-17 0.911 0.909 0.913 17.9 556–1795 data
(163132) 2002 CU11 1925-08-30 0.903 0.901 0.905 18.5 443–477 data
2010 VB1 1936-01-06 0.553 0.553 0.553 23.2 48–156 data
2002 JE9 1971-04-11 0.616 0.587 0.651 21.2 122–393 data
2013 UG1 1976-10-17 0.854 0.853 0.855 22.3 73–237 data
2012 TY52 1981-11-04 0.818 0.813 0.823 21.4 111–358 data
2012 UE34 1991-04-08 0.847 0.676 1.027 23.3 46–149 data
2017 VW13 2001-11-08 0.454 0.318 3.436 20.7 153–494 data
2002 MN 2002-06-14 0.312 0.312 0.312 23.6 40–130 data
(308635) 2005 YU55 2011-11-08 0.845 0.845 0.845 21.9 320–400 data
2011 XC2 2011-12-03 0.904 0.901 0.907 23.2 48–156 data
2018 AH 2018-01-02 0.773 0.772 0.773 22.5 67–216 data
2018 GE3 2018-04-15 0.502 0.501 0.503 23.7 35–135 data
2010 WC9 2018-05-15 0.528 0.528 0.528 23.5 42–136 data
(153814) 2001 WN5 2028-06-26 0.647 0.647 0.647 18.2 921–943 data
99942 Apophis 2029-04-13 0.0981 0.0963 0.1000 19.7 310–340 data
2012 UE34 2041-04-08 0.283 0.274 0.354 23.3 46–149 data
2015 XJ351 2047-06-06 0.789 0.251 38.135 22.4 70–226 data
2007 TV18 2058-09-22 0.918 0.917 0.919 23.8 37–119 data
2005 WY55 2065-05-28 0.865 0.856 0.874 20.7 153–494 data
(308635) 2005 YU55 2075-11-08 0.592 0.499 0.752 21.9 320–400 data
(456938) 2007 YV56 2101-01-02 0.621 0.615 0.628 21.0 133–431 data
2007 UW1 2129-10-19 0.239 0.155 0.381 22.7 61–197 data
101955 Bennu 2135-09-25 0.780 0.308 1.406 20.19 472–512 data
(153201) 2000 WO107 2140-12-01 0.634 0.631 0.637 19.3 427–593 data
2009 DO111 2146-03-23 0.896 0.744 1.288 22.8 58–188 data
(85640) 1998 OX4 2148-01-22 0.771 0.770 0.771 21.1 127–411 data
2007 UY1 2156-02-13 0.685 0.652 6.856 22.9 56–179 data
2011 LT17 2156-12-16 0.998 0.955 1.215 21.6 101–327 data
(A) This list includes near-Earth approaches of less than 1 lunar distances (LD) of objects with H brighter than 24.
(B) Nominal geocentric distance from the center of Earth to the center of the object (Earth has a radius of approximately 6,400 km).
(C) Diameter: estimated, theoretical mean-diameter based on H and albedo range between X and Y.
(D) Reference: data source from the JPL SBDB, with AU converted into LD (1 AU≈390 LD)
(E) Color codes:   unobserved at close approach   observed during close approach   upcoming approaches
Note: All close approaches between 1900 and 2200 are listed (with H<24 at less than 1 LD). Objects not observed during the approach,
and simply estimated to have approached on this date, are colored grey. Generically estimated asteroid diameters are given in italics.

Asteroid 2002 MN passed closer to Earth than 2018 GE3 in 2002, and had a brighter absolute magnitude (H) of 23.6, and could be either larger or smaller than 2018 GE3, depending on their albedos and thus exact sizes. 2017 VW13 (H=20.7) may have also passed closer in 2001, although the distance of its approach is very uncertain and it was not discovered until 2017.[5]

Physical characteristics[edit]

Diameter and albedo[edit]

The diameter can only be estimated based on the brightness and distance. The albedo is currently unknown. Based on a generic magnitude-to-diameter conversion, 2018 GE3 measures between 48–100 meters (157–328 feet) in diameter, for an absolute magnitude of 23.8,[2] and an assumed albedo between 0.05 and 0.24, which represent typical values for carbonaceous and stony asteroids, respectively.[4]

This asteroid is about three to six times the diameter of the meteor that exploded in the skies above Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013, which damaged over 7,200 buildings and injured 1,500 people, mostly from flying glass. If an asteroid of this size were to enter Earth's atmosphere, a good portion of it would likely disintegrate due to friction with the air. The remnants could survive entry however and impact the surface, thus causing regional damage dependent on various factors such as composition, speed, entry angle, and location of impact.[3]

Rotation period[edit]

As of 2018, no rotational lightcurve of 2018 GE3 has been obtained from photometric observations. The body's rotation period, pole and shape remain unknown.[2]

Numbering and naming[edit]

This minor planet has neither been numbered nor named.[1]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 2002 MN has a brighter absolute magnitude than this asteroid (23.6 vs. 23.8) and may therefor be larger. Note that the term "observational history" excludes objects such as 2017 VW13 not yet discovered at the time of close approach. Furthermore, 2017 VW13's orbit is uncertain enough that it may not have passed closer than 2018 GE3 at all.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "2018 GE3". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: (2018 GE3)" (15 April 2018 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Asteroid buzzed Earth this weekend". EarthSky. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Asteroid Size Estimator". CNEOS NASA/JPL. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  5. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: (2017 VW13)" (4 March 2018 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

External links[edit]