Planet-Killer Asteroid Found and Possible to One Day Collide with Earth
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“Only about 25 asteroids with orbits completely within Earth`s orbit have been discovered to date because of the difficulty of observing near the glare of the sun.”
Astronomers have discovered a giant asteroid hiding in the glare of the sun that might one day cross paths with Earth
The 0.9-mile-wide (1.5 kilometers) asteroid is the largest potentially hazardous asteroid spotted in the past eight years and astronomers have dubbed it a “planet killer” because the effects of its impact would be felt across multiple continents.
The asteroid, named 2022 AP7, managed to avoid detection for so long because it orbits in the region between Earth and Venus. To spot space rocks in this area, astronomers have to look in the direction of the sun, and that is notoriously difficult due to the sun’s luminosity. For example, flagship telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope never look toward the sun, as the star’s brightness would fry their sensitive optics.
Because of that, astronomers have only a limited understanding of the nature of asteroids lurking in this region, and sometimes, surprises may happen. In 2013, a much smaller asteroid (only 66 feet (20 m) in diameter) emerged from the Sun’s direction without any warning. The asteroid exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in southeastern Russia, shattering the windows of thousands of buildings.
Scott S. Shepherd, astronomer and principal investigator at the Earth and Planetary Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution, said: The author of the paper describing the new findings mentioned in the statement.
The discovery of 2022 AP7, which would cause far more damage if it hits Earth than Chelyabinsk, was made possible only thanks to the ultra-sensitive Dark Energy Camera (DEC) at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. , if these asteroids can be detected within two 10-minute periods each day. “So far, we have discovered two large asteroids near Earth that are about one kilometer in diameter, and this size is called the planet killer,” Shepard said.
Asteroids in the inner solar system are so difficult to detect that they are underestimated in models of space rock assemblages throughout the solar system. But Shepard believes there are very few unknown “planet killers” left in this hard-to-observe region. Fortunately, most of these unknown asteroids have orbits that keep them safely away from Earth It means that there is a high possibility that
“Few [near-Earth asteroids] of similar size have probably been discovered, and these undiscovered large asteroids may have orbits that stay within the orbits of Earth and Venus for the most part. said Shepard.