A huge asteroid is heading towards Earth’s orbit, but astronomers aren’t worried. (Photo: P Carril / ESA via PA Media)
A huge one asteroid is heading towards of land orbit – but astronomers aren’t worried.
The rock has a diameter between 1.1 and 2.3 km and was named 2022 AP7, discovered between the orbits of the Earth and Venus.
The study, written in the Astronomical Journal and conducted by the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, said it was the largest killer-sized asteroid on the planet seen in eight years.
It was found through the 4-meter Blanco telescope in Chile.
2022 AP7 is one of three “quite large” space rocks that could be dangerous and could even be 5% larger than the largest ever found, according to astronomers.
Study lead author Scott Sheppard explained that “any asteroid larger than 1km is considered a planet killer” because it would cause dust and pollutants to push into the atmosphere.
And they could potentially stay there for a long time, blocking sunlight and potentially causing a “mass extinction event” not seen on Earth for millions of years, according to Sheppard.
But, while the thought of an asteroid zooming into Earth may remind people of Adam McKay’s dystopian film “Don’t Look Up,” there’s a reason astronomers aren’t sounding the alarm.
It is not likely to hit Earth, only Earth’s orbit. Our planet will be on the other side of the sun during its annual rotation when 2022 AP7 approaches it, which means there is no chance of a collision any time soon.
Sheppard warned that over time it will get closer to Earth during its orbit, but in centuries.
He added: “We don’t know the orbit of 2022 AP7 precise enough to say much about its dangers for centuries.”
In September, NASA’s Dart mission to deter an asteroid was successful.
This could become a blueprint to avoid any collision with Earth, suggesting that we will be better protected from such dangers in the future, even though AP7 of 2022 is likely too big to be stopped in this way right now with just one Dart.
National Near Earth Objects Information Center director Jay Tate told the Guardian that Earth was a very small target.
“At the moment, however, the likelihood of impact is quite low. I would not say negligible, but quite low, ”she said.
A television at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida captures the final images of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) (Photo: JIM WATSON via Getty Images)
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.