A HUGE “city killer” asteroid had a near miss with Earth as it hurtled through space at 15 miles a second.
Asteroid 2019 OK, which is thought to be between 187 and 427 feet in diameter, came within 43,500 miles of colliding with our planet – a distance closer than the moon – on Thursday at around 11.22am.
Experts said if the asteroid had hit Earth the impact would have been similar to the bang of a “very large nuclear weapon”.
The rock was only spotted a couple of days before it flew past because it was flying in our direction from the Sun.
Associate Professor Michael Brown of Monash University’s school of physics and astronomy said: “It’s impressively close. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. It’s a pretty big deal.”
What's the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?
Here's what you need to know, according to Nasa…
- Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
- Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
- Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it’ll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
- Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn’t vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth’s atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
- Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)
He added: “[If it hit Earth] it makes the bang of a very large nuclear weapon – a very large one.”
Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It would have hit with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima,” calling it a “city-killer asteroid”.
Asteroid 2019 OK has been near Earth before, but never so close. Its last visit was February 1, 2017, though it was over 25 million miles away from the surface of Earth, according to Nasa.
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The asteroid was one of four that flew by the Earth with 2019 OK being the largest and closest.
Asteroid HM10 passed Earth by 2.9 million miles, Asteroid 2019 OD was 219,375 miles from Earth’s surface, and Asteroid 2019 OE came within 602,000 miles from Earth.
Of the three other rocks, Asteroid 2019 OD was the largest, believed to be between 170 feet and 393 feet across.
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