Sunday, 3 August 2014

Asteroid 2014 OW3 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 OW3 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 3 690 000 km (9.61 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 2.5% of the average distance between the Earth an the Sun), slightly after 7.50 am GMT on Tuesday 29 July 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a serious threat. 2014 OW3 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 62-200 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 62-200 m in diameter), and an object towards the upper end of this range would be predicted to be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere relatively intact, impacting the ground with an energy equivalent to about 376 megatons of TNT (roughly 22 000 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb). Such an event would result in a crater about 3 km across, cause devastation on a wide scale and would have the potential to affect the climate globally for years after the impact event.

The calculated orbit of 2014 OW3. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 OW3 was discovered on 25 July 2014 (four days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Hawaii's PANSTARRS telescope on Mount Haleakala on Maui. The designation 2014 OW3 implies that it was the 98th asteroid (asteroid W3) discovered in the second half of July 2014 (period 2014 O).

2014 OW3 has a 851 day year orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 8.1° to the plane of the Solar System that takes it from 0.46 AU from the Sun (i.e. 46 % of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably inside the orbit of Venus) to 3.05 AU from the Sun to 2.81 AU from the Sun (i.e. 305% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, slightly more than twice the distance at which 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). This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have happened in February 1924.

See also...


C/2002 VQ94 (LINEAR) was discovered by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) team at the Massachusetts Institute...


Asteroid 2014 DM22 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 16 830 000 km (43.77 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 11% of the average distance between the Sun and the...


 Asteroid 2014 OD4 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 OD4 passed by the Earth at a distance of 12 250 000 km (32.58 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 8.4% of the average distance between the Earth and the...


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