Thursday, 8 May 2014

Asteroid 2014 GY48 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 GY48 passed by the Earth at a distance of 17 520 000 km (over 45 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon and nearly 12% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly after 8.40 pm on Saturday 3 May 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though it does cross the Earth's orbit and were it to hit us it would present a considerable threat. 2014 GY48 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 360-1100 m (i.e. a spherical object with the same volume would have a diameter of 360-1100 m), and an object of this size would be expected to be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere intact, directly impacting the ground in an explosion up to three million times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb, and resulting in a crater 5-15 km in diameter. Such an event would cause devastation over a very wide area, and cause climatic events lasting decades or even centuries.

Visual image of 2014 GY48 taken on 8 April 2014. The asteroid is the point indicated by the arrow, the elongate objects are stars; the elongation being caused by movement of the camera tracking the asteroid. Observatorio de Elche. AAVSO.

2014 GY48 was discovered on 8 April 2014 by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 GY48 implies that it was the 1225th asteroid (asteroid Y48) discovered in the first half of April 2014 (period 2014 G).

2014 GY48 has an 746 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit steeply tilted to the plain of the Solar System that takes it from 0.94 AU from the Sun (i.e. 94% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 2.28 AU from the Sun (i.e. 228% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably more than distance at which the planet Mars orbits the Sun). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer). At a large and potentially destructive object on an Earth-orbit crossing trajectory it is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.

The calculated orbit of 2014 GY48. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

See also...

Asteroid 2014 HL129 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 292 300 km (roughly 76% of the average distance between the Earth...

Asteroid 2014 HP132 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 6 914 000 km (a little under 18 times the average distance between the...

Witnesses reported seeing a fireball over southern Ontario slightly after 4.15 pm local time on Sunday 4 May 2014. The incident was also captures on a number of cameras, and Peter Brown of the Meteor Physics Group at Western University has suggested that it...

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