Not one, not two, but three huge asteroids are paying us a holiday visit and are said to be racing relatively close to Earth on Christmas day. Relative to distances in the universe, then, so no need to panic.
The three asteroids are named 2022 YL1, 2013 YA14, and 2022 TE14 and are estimated to be between 124 and 278 feet, 167 and 360 feet, and 312 and 689 feet in diameter, respectively.
Therefore, 2022 YL1 is roughly the same size as the wingspan of a Boeing 777, 2013 YA14 is similar in scale to an American football field, while 2022 TE14 will be roughly the same size as a 50-story building. We call them Asteroids A, B and C respectively.
All three asteroids orbit the Sun and occasionally pass close to Earth. Most of the asteroids in the solar system orbit the sun in the asteroid belt, which is located between Mars and Jupiterwhere there are expected to be around 1.1 million.
“Asteroids are ‘parts of a planet that did not form’ orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter in the main asteroid belt. However, because they are relatively small, asteroids can be disturbed fairly easily, allowing them to develop orbits that intersect those of planets,” said Jay Tate, director of the UK Spaceguard Center Observatory, previously told news week.
Each of the asteroids will pass the Earth at a distance of 0.01959, 0.00691 and 0.02872 astronomical units, as per OUR NEO Earth Close Approaches data. An astronomical unit equal to the distance between Earth and the Sun – 93 million miles miles – meaning Asteroid A will fly by about 1,820,000 miles from Earth, Asteroid B at 642,000 miles and Asteroid C at 2,670. 000 miles.
While this may sound extremely far away, in terms of the solar system, the asteroids are getting quite close to Earth: the Moon is only about 238,900 miles away, while our nearest planetary neighbor, Venus, is currently 153.6 million miles away.
Many of the asteroids that fly close to Earth are classified as NEOs and are labeled as such depending on how close they are and their size. So far we are aware of about 30,000 NEOs, some of which also fall into another category called “potentially dangerous” objects. These are defined as being within 4.6 million miles of Earth orbit and also measure more than 460 feet in diameter.
Therefore, only Asteroid C falls into the potentially dangerous category.
“The designation potentially dangerous simply means that the asteroid’s orbit could evolve over many centuries and millennia into one that has the potential to impact Earth. We’re not evaluating these long-term, many-century-long impact opportunities,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. previously told news week.
Despite the close proximity of these Christmas asteroids to Earth, the chances of them or any of the other thousands of asteroids in the solar system hitting our planet are very slim.
“No known asteroid poses a significant risk of impacting Earth for the next 100 years,” said NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
Do you have a tip on a science story that news week should cover? Do you have a question about asteroids? Let us know at email@example.com.