The asteroid Apophis – one of the most dangerous space rocks in the entire solar system – was captured by astronomers while approaching our planet.
Next month, Apophis will fly 15 million kilometers over Earth – a distance that will not affect the asteroid’s orbital trajectory, but will be close enough to be seen with telescopes.
The asteroid will not fly close enough to be affected by Earth’s gravitational pull, but close enough for the rare opportunity to see the asteroid
The last image was taken by astronomers from the Virtual Telescope project.
“The telescope has tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid, so the stars are blurred, and the asteroid looks like a bright point of light in the center of the image, indicated by an arrow.”
The giant space rock will pass even closer to Earth in 2029, but what is most worried experts are the 2068 flyby.
American astronomers recently stated that the probability of a collision with the Earth in 2068 is 1 in 530,000.
By comparison, the chance of being struck by lightning is one in 500,000, so while the chances are slim, they are. Scientists from the University of Hawaii discovered a small “Yarkovsky effect” on the surface of the asteroid Apophis, which could affect the asteroid’s trajectory during its 2068 flyby.
The Yarkovsky effect – occurs when an asteroid or celestial body changes its orbit due to a small thermal shock emanating either from itself – the release of gases, or due to the gravitational effects of celestial bodies, including the Sun and Earth.
In this case, astronomers detected a slight thermal reaction that could slightly alter the course of Apophis.
According to calculations, if an asteroid weighing 27 billion kilograms collides with the Earth, it will leave a crater more than one and a half kilometers wide and 518 meters deep.
Most worryingly, however, the strike would be equivalent to an explosion of 880 million tons of TNT – 65,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.