An asteroid measuring 300 meters across is gaining speed as it tacks towards Earth – and could be on a collision path with the planet by 2068, experts at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy revealed on Tuesday.
Astronomers at UH warned, the asteroid, named 99942 Apophis, or has been dubbed by some as the “God of Chaos” – is speeding up due to something known as the Yarkovsky effect. This means the asteroid’s speed is increasing because of thermal radiation from the sun.
“The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis,” UH astronomer Dave Tholen said.
“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,” Tholen sad.
Apophis will make an “extremely” close pass by the Earth in April 2029:
“We have known for some time that an impact with Earth is not possible during the 2029 close approach,” he said.
The asteroid’s size and proximity to the Earth have resulted in NASA categorizing it as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.” NASA scientists are aware of the asteroid’s track could shift from now till the potential impact date.
If, for whatever reason, the asteroid strikes Earth in 2068, its potential impact would be the equivalent of 880 million tons of TNT, making it 65,000 times more destructive than Hiroshima.
A horrifying simulation shows what could happen