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An international team of astronomers has reported the discovery of a potentially dangerous giant asteroid on Earth. Due to its dimensions, the object is considered a “planet killer”. Although it does not pose an immediate danger to us, the possibility of a catastrophic impact in the distant future is not excluded.
Asteroid 2022 AP7
The newly discovered asteroid 2022 AP7, has a width of 1.5 kilometers. According to researchers, it is the largest potentially dangerous object discovered in the past eight years. In addition, two other near-Earth objects have been identified that wander between the orbits of our planet and Venus.
“Any asteroid larger than one kilometer is considered a planet killer,” said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science and lead of the study. According to him, if such an object collides with the Earth, the effect will be devastating to life, releasing dust and pollutants into the atmosphere, where they will remain for years. The Earth’s surface would likely cool down significantly if sunlight did not reach the planet. It would be a mass extinction event the likes of which we have not seen on Earth in millions of years.
Scientists have verified that the asteroid crosses Earth’s orbit, but when our planet is on the far side of the sun, this pattern will continue for centuries, taking the body five years to complete one orbit around the sun. But over time, the orbital motion of the asteroid will be more synchronous with the motion of the Earth. Scientists don’t know the asteroid’s orbit with enough accuracy to say how dangerous it could become in the future, but Sheppard stresses that it will be far from Earth for centuries to come.
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