For the past 24 hours, rumors and predictions about an asteroid hitting Earth this week have been circulating. Are these claims supported by any facts?
No known asteroid is expected to hit Earth this week, just to be clear. The huge asteroid rumored to hit Earth this week is being referred to as BU 2023. Gennadiy Borisov, an amateur astronomer, made the discovery on Saturday from his Margo observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea.
The Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), in Southern California, which houses NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system, swiftly examined the data and ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor. The centre calculates every known near-Earth asteroid orbit to offer evaluations of probable impact risks.
It was found that the asteroid will nonetheless make one of the closest visits by a known near-Earth object ever recorded, US space agency Nasa said, despite the fact that it is not on a crash track with our planet.
At around 4:27 p.m. PST, the small asteroid, which is approximately the size of a truck box and might be anywhere between 3.5 and 8.5 meters across, will pass barely 3,600 kilometers over the surface of the Earth and well within its satellites’ orbit.
This is a relatively close, with 2023 BU being the fourth closest of more than 35,000 historical and future Earth approaches that have been recorded between 1900 and 2200, according to the CNEOS database.
At close approach, the asteroid will move at about 33,300 miles per hour relative to the Earth, which is “just barely over escape velocity”—the speed at which an object needs to be moving to escape a planet’s gravity—and less than 3% of the average distance between the Earth and the moon—astronomer Tony Dunn said on Twitter.
The ground track of #asteroid 2023 BU.— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) January 25, 2023
On the night of the 26th, it will be:
mag 16 for N. America
mag 15 for East Asia.
mag 14 Northern India.
mag 13 for the Middle East
mag 12 for Africa
mag 11 for South America pic.twitter.com/xjZDh7ZcH0
There is no reason to be concerned about this asteroid hitting Earth. But even if it did, its trajectory, small size, and moderate speed would prevent any damage to the ground. It would likely become a fireball and fragment in the atmosphere, with some of the larger debris perhaps falling as tiny meteorites.