MASSIVE APOPHIS ASTEROID GAINING SPEED TOWARDS EARTH’S ORBIT
Astronomers at the University of Hawaii recently confirmed that the massive asteroid named after the God of Chaos, Apophis, has accelerated on its path towards Earth due to non-uniform radiation.
Researchers spotted Apophis earlier this year with the Subaru telescope and determined that, following the Yarkovsky effect, it has been picking up speed.
It was confirmed that the asteroid is gaining speed as it travels on a path towards Earth. According to NASA, the asteroid has a one in 150,000 chance that it could strike our planet in 48 years.
Apophis was first discovered on June 19, 2004 by astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, and has since been tracked as it orbits the sun.
The impact was first said to be impossible, however, the new findings suggest the asteroid has a chance of crashing into Earth on April 12, 2068.
Experts discovered that Apophis is more than 1,000 feet wide. With that information researches calculated that an impact would be equivalent to 880 million tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT) which will explode all at once.
Scientists further added that the asteroid contains nickel and iron and, according to the radar images received, it suggests it is elongated with the two lobes.
Scientists explained that, when the asteroid's body heats up in sunlight, it re-radiates the energy away as heat, which then acts as tiny thrusters for the cosmic object.
One of the astronomers, Dave Tholen, confirmed that; "The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis, and they show that the asteroid is drifting away from a purely gravitational orbit by about 170 meters per year, which is enough to keep the 2068 impact scenario in play."
NASA has also given Apophis the title of the third-highest threat on NASA's Sentry Risk Table.
Tholen added that the more estimated chance for the asteroid to impact could be one in 530,000.
Researchers note that more observations need to be done in order to fully understand the amplitude of the Yarkovksy effect and how it affects Apophis' orbit, seeing that the latest data shows that the asteroid may safely pass within 19,794 miles of Earth.
Scientists explained that this might be the closest encounter and passing of such a huge asteroid.