Large asteroid approaching Earth: How big is it? Is it dangerous?

February 15, 2023  10:39

For the first time in four hundred years, the large asteroid named 2005 YY128 will make its closest approach to the Earth.

Although it does not pose an immediate threat to our planet, such celestial bodies are considered potentially dangerous due to their characteristics. Theoretically, an asteroid's size would enable it to destroy humanity in the event of a collision with our planet.

As informs, the aforesaid asteroid will come closest to the Earth at a distance of 4.5 million km, which will happen on Thursday  at 4:46am Armenia time. However, this distance is about 12 times greater than the distance from the Earth to the Moon. So, perhaps there is nothing to fear.

The 2005 Asteroid YY128 was discovered by the Kitt Peak National Observatory scientists in 2005. Over the past 17 years, astronomers have precisely determined its orbit. However, the size of this asteroid has not yet been accurately estimated. According to scientists, the diameter of this celestial body is from 580 m to 1.3 km. Because of this, it is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid; this designation is assigned to space objects with a diameter of at least 140 m, and whose orbits are within 0.05 astronomical units from Earth. A complete astronomical unit is considered the distance from the Earth to the Sun; that is, about 150 million km.

Disastrous consequences

Scientists believe that the largest near-Earth asteroids with a diameter of more than 1 km can cause catastrophic changes in the event of a collision with our planet; in such a scenario, they can destroy human civilization and even lead to the complete extinction of the species. Smaller objects, ranging from 140 m to 1 km in diameter, can cause regional catastrophes when they collide with Earth, destroying up to entire continents and killing hundreds of millions—if not billions—of people. However, given the distance of 2005 YY128 from Earth, there is no need to fear.

It is noteworthy that the approach of this asteroid will take place one day after the anniversary of the fall of a meteorite in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15, 2013. That asteroid was only about 20m in diameter, but even its explosion shattered thousands of windows in Chelyabinsk, scaring many. It was this incident that forced more attention to be paid to near-Earth objects. In fact, until its explosion, the Chelyabinsk meteor went unnoticed.

A few years after the Chelyabinsk incident, in which no one was killed, NASA opened the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and scientists from all over the world joined this project to protect the Earth. Today, these scientists are getting well-timed and more information about near-Earth objects.

To note, a meteor had fallen on the English Channel a few days ago. And an astronomer had discovered it hours before it fell.

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