An international team of astronomers announced the discovery of a huge asteroid whose orbit intersects the orbit Tierra, creating little chance of a catastrophic collision in the distant future.
The 1.5-kilometer-wide asteroid, named 2022 AP7, was discovered in an area where the brightness of the Sun makes it particularly difficult to detect objects.
It was found with the help of high-tech instruments on the Victor M. Blanco telescope in Chile, originally developed to study dark matter, and the results of the research were published in the scientific journal “The Astronomical Journal”.
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“2022 AP7 intersects Earth’s orbit, making it a potentially hazardous asteroid, but it is not currently on a collision course with Earth, now or in the future,” said the study’s lead author. discovery by astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute of Science.
The potential threat comes from the fact that, like any other object in orbit, its trajectory will be slowly altered by countless gravitational forces. Therefore, it is difficult to make long-term forecasts.
The US-funded research group NOIRLab, which operates multiple observatories, described the asteroid as “the largest potentially dangerous object for Earth discovered in the last eight years”.
2022 AP7 takes five years to orbit the Sun in its current orbit, and its closest point to Earth remains several million kilometers away.
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Although the risk is very small, an asteroid collision of that size “would have a devastating impact on life as we know it,” Sheppard says. He explains that the dust rising into the air would have a massive cooling effect, causing “an extinction event not seen on Earth for millions of years”.
None of the approximately 30,000 asteroids of all sizes that are classified as “near-Earth objects” (NEOs) will threaten Earth for the next 100 years.
According to Sheppard, “between 20 and 50 massive NEOs” remain to be found, but most are in orbits located in the sun’s glare.”
In preparation for the future discovery of an even more threatening object, NASA conducted a test mission at the end of September in which the spacecraft collided with an asteroid, proving that it is possible to change the trajectory.
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