‘Planet Killer’ Asteroid Heading Our Way

3rd Nov 2022
‘Planet Killer’ Asteroid Heading Our Way

Astronomers say they have unearthed a massive ‘planet killer’ sized asteroid, which is the biggest of its kind in the past eight years. The asteroid, named 2022 AP7, has a diameter between 1 and  2 km. 

The good news is that although the massive space rock will cross our orbit, it has ‘no chance’ of hitting Earth.

Likely to be in the top 5% of the biggest asteroids ever found

Researchers found the asteroid when looking for space rocks within the orbits of Venus and Earth. They use the four-meter Blanco telescope from Chile to do this.

Scott Sheppard, the lead author of the study, wrote in The Astronomical Journal that they have discovered three “rather large” asteroids – one being 2022 AP7. Sheppard and his colleagues at Washington’s Carnegie Institution say the size and the fact that the asteroid crosses the Earth’s orbit makes it a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA).

Sheppard said the following:

“Any asteroid over 1km in size is considered a planet killer.”

He went on to say that if an object of this size hit Earth, the impact would be devastating to life as we know it. Pollutants and dust would kick up into the atmosphere, lingering for years.

He continued: 

“The Earth’s surface would likely cool significantly from sunlight not getting to the planet. It would be a mass extinction event like hasn’t been seen on Earth in millions of years.”

The team believes that the size of the 2022 AP7 is likely to be in the top five per cent of the biggest asteroids ever found. 

A ‘planet killer’ asteroid, but not soon

Sheppard was quick to reassure everyone that the 2022 AP7 has no chance of hitting the Earth soon.

However, he did say that the team expects to find several more asteroids of similar size within the next few years through their survey work. 

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