NASA has detected an asteroid that's expected to fly past Earth on New Year's Day. According to the agency, the approaching asteroid belongs to a group of near-Earth objects that are known to intersect the planet's orbit around the Sun.
Facts About The Approaching Asteroid
According to CNEOS' database, the asteroid that will visit Earth's vicinity tomorrow has been identified as 2019 YK. This asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 35 to 79 metres. As noted by the agency's automated system, this asteroid is currently flying towards Earth at an impressive speed of over 26,000 kilometers per hour.
2019 YK is expected to fly close to Earth on the morning of New Year's Day at 2:06 am. During its approach, the asteroid will zip past the planet from a distance of 0.03601 astronomical units, which is equivalent to about 5.4 million kilometres away.
Threat posed by Earth-Crossing Asteroids
After studying the approaching space rock's trajectory, NASA officially classified 2019 YK as an Apollo asteroid. Like most Apollo asteroids, 2019 YK has an oval-shaped orbit that goes around a couple of planets within the Solar System such as Venus and Mercury. From time to time, the asteroid intersects the Earth's orbit as both objects fly around the Sun.
Asteroids with Earth-crossing orbits can be very dangerous for the planet. After all, if certain factors about the asteroid's trajectory changes, such as its speed and direction, it could end up on a direct collision course with the planet. Given 2019 YK's size and current speed, it could cause an impact event if it collides with Earth. The energy that would be released from the asteroid's impact could be powerful enough to wipe out an entire town.