Not one, not two, but three huge asteroids are paying us a holiday, and their speed is set to be relatively near Earth on Christmas Day. As for the spaces in the universe, don’t panic.
The three asteroids have been named 2022 YL1, 2013 YA14, and 2022 TE14, and are estimated to measure between 124 and 278 feet in diameter, between 167 and 360 feet in diameter and between 312 and 689 feet, respectively.
So, the 2022 YL1 is the same size as the wingspan of a Boeing 777, the 2013 YA14 is similar in size to an American football field, while the 2022 TE14 will be the same size as a 50-story building. We’ll call them asteroids A, B, and C, respectively.
The three asteroids orbit the sun, and they usually pass close to Earth. Most of the asteroids in the solar system orbit the sun in the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter, where about 1.1 million are thought to be.
“Asteroids are ‘parts of a planet that didn’t happen’ orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter in the main asteroid belt. However, because they are relatively small, asteroids can be disturbed quite easily, so they can develop orbits that cross those planets,” said Jay Tate, director of the Observatory. UK Spaceguard Centre, ex Newsweek.
Each asteroid will pass Earth at distances of 0.01959, 0.00691, and 0.02872 astronomical units, according to NASA’s near-Earth approach data. One astronomical unit, equal to the distance between Earth and the sun — 93 million miles — which means that Asteroid A will pass at about 1,820,000 miles from Earth, Asteroid B at 642,000 miles and Asteroid C at 2,670,000 miles.
While that may seem a little far away, in solar system terms, the asteroids are getting fairly close to Earth: the Moon is only about 238,900 miles away, while our nearest planet, Venus, is currently 153.6 million miles away.
Many asteroids that pass close to Earth are classified as near-Earth objects, and they are classified as such based on how close they are and how big they are. There are about 30,000 NEOs known to us so far, and some of them also fall into another category called “potentially hazardous” objects. These are defined as being within 4.6 million miles of Earth’s orbit and also measuring more than 460 feet in diameter.
Therefore, asteroid C only falls into the category of potential danger.
“A potentially dangerous designation simply means over centuries and millennia that an asteroid’s orbit may evolve into an orbit that has a chance of impacting Earth. We’re not evaluating these long-term, many-centuries-impact possibilities,” said Paul Chodas, director of the NASA Study Center. Near Earth Object, ex Newsweek.
Despite the proximity of these Christmas asteroids to Earth, the chances of them colliding with our planet or any of the thousands of other asteroids in the solar system are very small.
“No known asteroid poses a significant risk of colliding with Earth within the next 100 years,” says NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
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