Monday 28 June 2021

Asteroid (441987) 2010 NY65 passes the Earth.

Asteroid (441987) 2010 NY65 passed by the Earth at a distance of 5 972 000 km (15.6 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 3.99% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 5.10 am GMT on Friday 25 June 2021. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented a considerable threat. (441987) 2010 NY65 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 94-300 m (i.e. a spherical body with the same mass would be 99-310 m in diameter), and an towards the upper end of this range would pass through the atmosphere and directly impact the ground with a force of about 1110 megatons (about 65 300 times the explosive energy of the Hiroshima bomb), causing devastation over a wide area and creating a crater about 4.6 km across, and resulting in global climatic problems that could last for decades or even centuries.

Asteroid (441987) 2010 NY65 observed from London, England in June 2017. Northolt Branch Observatories/Facebook.

(441987) 2010 NY65 was discovered on 14 July 2010 by the NEOWISE system on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite. The designation 2010 NY65 implies that it was the 1649th asteroid (asteroid Y65; in numbering asteroids the letters A-Z, excluding I, are assigned numbers from 1 to 25, with a number added to the end each time the alphabet is ended, so that A = 1, A1 = 26, A2 = 51, etc., which means that Y65 = (25 x 65) + 24 = 1649) discovered in the first half of July 2010 (period 2010 N; the year being split into 24 half-months represented by the letters A-Y, with I being excluded), while the designation 441987 implies that it was 441 987th asteroid ever discovered (asteroids are not given this longer designation immediately to avoid naming double or false sightings).
The relative positions of (441987) 2010 NY65 and the Earth on 25 June 2021. JPL Small Body Database.
(441987) 2010 NY65 has a 367 day (1 year) orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle of 11.6° to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.63 AU from the Sun (63% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun and inside the orbit of the planet Venus) and out to 1.37 AU (37% further away from the Sun than the Earth). This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have happened in June 2020 and the next predicted in June 2022. (441987) 2010 NY65 also has frequent close encounters with the planet Venus, with the last thought to have occurred in May 2020 and the next predicted for May 2052. Although it does cross the Earth's orbit and is briefly further from the Sun on each cycle, (441987) 2010 NY65 spends most of its time closer to the Sun than we are, and is therefore classified as an Aten Group Asteroid. As an asteroid possibly larger than 150 m in diameter that occasionally comes within 0.05 AU of the Earth, (441987) 2010 NY65 is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.
The orbit and current position of (441987) 2010 NY65. Minor Planet Centre.

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