Washington: International Panel of Astronomy scientists It announced the discovery of a large asteroid whose orbit exceeds Earth’s, creating a small chance far in the future for a catastrophic collision.
1.5 kilometers (0.9 mi) wide asteroidIt, named 2022 AP7, was discovered in a region where objects are difficult to spot due to glare from the Sun.
It was found along with two near-Earth asteroids using a high-tech instrument on the Victor M. Blanco telescope in Chile that was originally developed to study dark matter.
“2022 AP7 crosses Earth’s orbit, making it a potentially dangerous asteroid, but it does not currently or at any time in the future have a path to collide with Earth,” said astronomer Scott Sheppard, Scott Sheppard. Carnegie Institution for Science.
The potential threat comes from the fact that like any orbiting object, its trajectory will slowly be modified by the myriad gravitational forces, in particular by the planets. So the outlook is difficult in the long term.
NOIRLab, a US-funded research group that operates several observatories, said the newly discovered asteroid is “the largest potentially hazardous Earth object discovered in the past eight years.”
It takes 2022 AP7 five years to orbit the Sun under its current orbit, which remains at its closest point to Earth several million kilometers away.
The risk for that is very small, Sheppard said, but in the event of a collision, an asteroid of this size “would have a devastating effect on life as we know it.” He explained that the dust released into the air would have a significant cooling effect, leading to “an extinction event such as we haven’t seen on Earth for millions of years.”
His team’s findings are published in The Astronomical Journal. The other two asteroids pose no danger to Earth, but one of them is the closest asteroid ever found to the Sun.
Nearly 30,000 asteroids of all sizes — including more than 850 larger than 1 kilometer — have been classified near Earth, earning them the designation “near-Earth objects” (NEOs). None of them threaten Earth for the next 100 years.
According to Sheppard, “there are probably 20 to 50 NEOs to be found,” but most of them are in orbits that put them in the sun’s glare.
In preparation for a future discovery of an even more threatening object, NASA conducted a test Expedition It’s late September as a spacecraft collides with an asteroid, proving that it is possible to change its trajectory.