Massive asteroid named after Apophis – the "God of Chaos" – gains speed as it moves towards Earth with a possible impact date of 2068, which corresponds to 880 MILLION tons of TNT
- Asteroid Apophis has gained speed on its way to Earth
- Experts call this the Yarkovsky effect, which occurs when the asteroid gathers and gives off heat from the sun – creating something like a tiny jet engine
- These results suggest that it could hit Earth on April 12, 2068
- It would release the same equivalent as if 880 million tons of TNT exploded
An asteroid named after the god of chaos is gaining speed on its way to Earth – and could hit our planet in 48 years, experts warn.
Astronomers from the University of Hawaii confirmed that the massive asteroid Apophis accelerated on its way due to uneven radiation that acts like a tiny jet engine.
Before the discovery, the impact was thought impossible, but the new evidence suggests that the asteroid may crash to Earth on April 12, 2068 – and it could be catastrophic.
Apophis is more than 300 meters wide and one impact is equivalent to an explosion of 880 million tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT) at once.
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An asteroid named after the god of chaos wins if it moves on a path towards Earth – and could hit our planet in 48 years. Astronomers confirmed that Apophis (circled) accelerated its path due to uneven radiation that acts like a tiny thruster
Apophis was discovered by astronomers on June 19, 2004 at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
Since then, the asteroid has been tracked as it orbits the Sun, which takes less than an Earth year.
Researchers discovered Aphophis using the Subaru telescope earlier this year and found that it had gained speed after analyzing it known as the Yarkovsky effect.
When the asteroid's body warms up in sunlight, it emits the energy as heat, which acts as tiny thrusters for the cosmic object.
Astronomers said before the effect occurred, impact was impossible in 2068, but they have since changed their minds.
Before the discovery, the impact was believed to be impossible, but the new evidence suggests the asteroid may crash to Earth on April 12, 2068. One impact would be equivalent to an explosion of 880 million tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT) at once. (Images of the asteroid from 2012 are shown)
Dave Tholen, one of the astronomers, said, "The new observations we got with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis, and they show that the asteroid has moved by about one pure gravitational orbit deviates 170 meters per year, which is sufficient to keep the impact scenario of 2068 in play. & # 39;
Apophis was also named the third highest threat on NASA's Sentry Risk Table, Gizmodo reports.
The table estimates that there is a one in 150,000 chance that the asteroid will hit Earth in 48 years, but Tholen told Gizmodo that the odds are closer to one in 530,000 – that number explains the Yarkovsky Effect.
The asteroid contains nickel and iron, and radar images suggest that it is elongated with the two lobes, making it look like a peanut.
The researchers note that more observations are needed to fully understand the amplitude of the Yarkovksy effect and its impact on Apophis' orbit.
The asteroid contains nickel and iron, and radar images suggest that it is extended with the two lobes to make it look like a peanut (artist impression). Data estimates that there is a one in 150,000 chance that the asteroid will hit Earth in 48 years
And they plan to "know well in advance of 2068 if there is a possibility of an impact".
When Apophis was first discovered, experts said there was a 2.7 percent chance of an impact with Earth in 2029. Now data shows it will safely pass within 19,794 miles of the Earth.
This is the closest approach from an asteroid of this size that scientists know in advance.
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