Pyramid-shaped asteroid hurtling past Earth, check speed and distance details inside | Scientific news

Although most asteroids occupy the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, there are populations of asteroids spread throughout the solar system. Some of these are in the same celestial neighborhood around the sun as Earth, and pop in for a visit every now and then.

Illustration of an asteroid close to Earth. (Image credit: Bing Image Creator).

New Delhi: On April 22, 2024, an asteroid designated 2024 HY will pass by Earth at a speed of 9.22 kilometers per second. The asteroid is between 57 and 130 meters in diameter and approaches the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The asteroid will approach within 21,94,778 kilometers of Earth, or less than six times the distance between Earth and the moon. There is no risk of impact and the asteroid is expected to pass Earth harmlessly.

However, about once every 3,000 years, a similar asteroid actually hits Earth. If HY were to strike Earth in 2024, it would form an impact crater about 1.5 miles wide and 1,700 feet deep, immediately vaporizing about 6,000 people. The asteroid would hit the ground at a speed of nine kilometers per second, releasing the energy equivalent of 61 megatons of TNT, which is more than the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

The 234 decibel shock wave would result in the deaths of another 475,000 people, rupturing everyone within a 10 kilometer radius. All buildings within a radius of 15 kilometers and all houses within a radius of 20 kilometers would collapse. The most devastating aspect of the impact would be the high wind speeds. The gust would result in the deaths of 3,839,200 people, knocking down trees within a 15-mile radius.

An earthquake would also occur, felt 20 miles (33 kilometers) away, and result in the deaths of approximately 2,000 people. There is no reason to worry, as no major impact event is expected for centuries, and space agencies around the world are developing the capabilities necessary to deflect an asteroid.

How do you deflect an asteroid?

The sooner a potential impactor is identified, the less energy is required to move it into a safer trajectory. Currently, NASA has demonstrated the ability to deflect an asteroid using a kinetic impactor, that is, by ramming a spacecraft into the side. The current lead time required to establish such a mission is between five and ten years. It would take hundreds of such spacecraft to fend off a city-killing asteroid. NASA is exploring other options, including gravity tractors, ion beam shepherds and nuclear explosives.