Finding a “planet killer” asteroid that could pose a threat to Earth

Astronomers have discovered a “planet-killer” asteroid that could one day cross Earth in the glare of the sun, according to a new research study.

Three previously unknown near-Earth asteroids (NEA) have been discovered in the inner solar system, and one of them was the largest potentially hazardous object found in the past eight years, according to results published in Astronomical Journal.

Scott Sheppard, lead author of the paper and astronomer at NOIR Lab press release Which announced the results on Monday. “So far we have found two large asteroids near Earth that are about one kilometer in diameter, a size we call planetary killers.

The press release stated that one of the asteroids, dubbed 2022 AP7, is about a mile wide and could enter Earth’s path in the future. While its exact path is unclear, the asteroid will remain “very far from Earth” for now, Sheppard said, to me CNN.

Twilight observations where astronomers spotted three asteroids close to Earth.
DOE / FNAL / DECam / CTIO / NOIRLab / NSF /

A near-Earth asteroid 1 km – 0.6 miles – or larger, said Sheppard, “would have a devastating impact on life as we know it,” according to a CNN report.

According to CNN, the planet will be cooled by dust and pollutants in the atmosphere for years, preventing sunlight from reaching the planet’s surface.

“It would be a mass extinction event that we haven’t seen on Earth in millions of years,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard said New York times, “This is what we call a planetary killer. If it hits this Earth, it will cause planet-wide destruction. It would be very bad for life as we know it.”

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This long-exposure image shows the movement of stars.
The most threatening asteroid will still be far away.
CTIO // NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / D. MENZA

But planetary scientist Tracy Baker, who was not involved in the study, said there was a “very low chance” it would affect Earth in the near term, according to The Times.

The other two asteroids, named 2021 LJ4 and 2021 PH27, orbit safely within Earth’s orbit, according to the NOIR Laboratory.

Asteroids are hard to spot in this region because they lie between Earth and Venus where the sun’s glare hides them, according to the NOIR Laboratory. Astronomers only have 10-minute night windows to look at the region while battling the bright background from the sun.

“It is likely that there are only a few new planets left of similar sizes, and it is possible that these large, undiscovered asteroids have orbits that put them within the orbits of Earth and Venus most of the time,” Sheppard said in the statement. “Only about 25 asteroids with orbits completely within Earth’s orbit have been discovered so far due to the difficulty of observing near the glare of the sun.”

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