The largest potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) in eight years has been found hidden from the sun.
It’s estimated to be 1.5 kilometers wide — nearly a mile — and astronomers have classified them as a “planet killer” because of the damage they can cause.
This rock is thought to be in the top 5% of the largest known PHAs.
Called 2022 AP7, it’s one of several newly discovered asteroids discovered near Earth and Venus.
The asteroid crosses Earth’s own orbit, but there’s no need to panic now: Experts say any possible collision may not happen for thousands of years.
The asteroids were detected using the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile and study in the Astronomical Journal.
“So far, we’ve discovered two large near-Earth asteroids about 1 km in diameter, which we call planet killers,” said Scott S Sheppard of the Earth and Planetary Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Another large asteroid orbits entirely within Earth’s own orbit, so it will never give us trouble.
Finding asteroids in the inner solar system is tricky due to the bright background of the sun’s glare. There are also only two 10-minute windows per night for observation.
The study’s lead author, Mr Sheppard, said: “Due to the difficulty of observing near the sun’s glare, only about 25 asteroids have been detected so far with orbits entirely within Earth’s orbit.”
The astronomer added: “There may be only a few NEAs (near-Earth asteroids) of similar size left to be discovered, and the orbits of these undiscovered large asteroids may be mostly inside the orbits of Earth and Venus. .”
In September, NASA crashed a spacecraft into a much smaller asteroid (160 meters wide) 7 million miles away, managed to change its orbit.
The experiment was designed to test whether the action would work if the Earth was threatened by an incoming object.
asteroid falling to earth A meteorite that ignited wildfires wiped out dinosaurs Thousands of miles from its impact zone is thought to be at least 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide, but could be as wide as 9 miles (15 kilometers).