On Monday, planet Earth had a close encounter with a potentially hazardous asteroid. Yes, you read it right. We were lucky that the 820-feet asteroid did not hit our planet. Named as asteroid 454094 (2013 BZ45), the space rock was taller than the Golden Gate Bridge towers. Asteroid 2013 BZ45 zoom past the Earth at 12:14 am ST at a speed of 18,200 miles per hour. Notably, this asteroid would have definitely harmed the mankind, if it would have collided with our planet. Asteroids (space rocks) are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. You must be aware that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring massive destruction to our planet and also to human life. The effects of an asteroid strike—tsunamis, shock waves, and flattening winds, could be catastrophic. Asteroids can approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Therefore, our fortune can be turned into misfortune anytime. However, as of now, we are safe.
Coming back to the asteroid 2013 BZ45, the giant space rock has been identified as an Apollo asteroid. During its approach asteroid 2013 BZ45 was about 0.04352 astronomical units or roughly 4 million miles from Earth’s centre. NASA’s CNEOS has classified asteroid 2013 BZ45 as potentially hazardous.
In a statement, CNEOS said, “Potentially hazardous asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.” “Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 [astronomical units] or less and an absolute magnitude of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs,” it added.
Asteroid 2013 BZ45 was first observed on January 19, 2013. According to CNEOS, the last time the asteroid 2013 BZ45 approached Earth was on July 29, 2018. During this time, the asteroid flew at a distance of 0.10267 astronomical units or roughly 9.5 million miles from the planet.
It is worth mentioning here that asteroid 2013 BZ45 is expected to return to Earth’s neighbourhood on August 27, 2021. By this time, the asteroid will be at a much safer distance of 0.29651 astronomical units or about 27 million miles from Earth’s centre.
Importantly, five other asteroids named as 2018 PN22, 2016 PD, 2002 JR100 and 2019 OU1 will fly past the Earth in August this year. According to a report published by spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
In related news, on December 18 last year, a large meteoroid was exploded over the Bering Sea, however, it went unnoticed due to the remote location. According to the NASA, the explosion of meteoroid unleashed around 173 kilotons of energy, more than 10 times that of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima in World War II. Also, it was the most powerful explosion in the atmosphere since the fireball that burst over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk in 2013. That was 440 kilotons and left 1,500 people injured, mostly from glass flying out of smashed windows.