A possible threat is approaching the Earth today. According to NASA, an asteroid named '2019 NJ2' is expected to come very close to the earth. If reports are to be believed, the asteroid is bigger than Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa. The space agency's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has classified the asteroid as an Apollo near-Earth object due to its orbit.
What are Apollo asteroids?
According to CNEOS, Apollo asteroids are space rocks that have very wide orbits around the Sun and Earth. The orbit of Apollo asteroids intersects with that of the Earth from time to time as it goes around the Sun. The orbit of 2019 NJ2 may have been affected by the gravitational pull from other nearby cosmic bodies such as planet. It is because of this gravitational force that the asteroid may have ended up on a trajectory path that brings it close to Earth.
Time when the asteroid is expected to fly close to Earth:
Asteroid 2019 NJ2 is expected to fly close to Earth at 7:53 pm today. As the asteroid approaches, it will be about 0.03421 astronomical units or roughly 3.2 million miles from the Earth’s center. However, the object is likely to zoom past the Earth, without coming into its contact. If it happens otherwise, it may leave certain dangerous effects.
When was asteroid 2019 NJ2 first observed:
2019 NJ2 asteroid was first observed on June 29. CNEOS was able to discover that the asteroid previously approached Venus on December 27, 1952. The asteroid flew from a distance of 0.14116 astronomical units or about 13 million miles away from the planet’s center.
When will asteroid 2019 NJ2 be seen next:
Asteroid 2019 NJ2 may not return to Earth's neighbourhood for a very long time. The asteroid is now expected on July 7, 2119, when it would approach the Earth from a distance of 0.25594 astronomical units or roughly 23.8 million miles from the planet’s center.
About asteroid 2019 NJ2:
According to CNEOS, 2019 NJ2 asteroid is about 2017 feet long, making it almost as wide as the wingspan of a Boeing 747 airplane. As per an estimation, the asteroid is currently travelling at a speed of 13.46 kilometer per second, or around 30,000 miles per hour.
Also Read | NASA picks new teams to study Moon, asteroids