A massive asteroid just flew past our planet contrary to astronomers’ expectations.
Ranging in size from 57 to 130 meters which is equivalent to 187 to 427 feet wide, the space rock named as ‘2019 OK’ snuck up on us on the morning of 25th July. It whizzed as close as 45,000 miles equivalent to 73,000 kilometers from Earth, what was told by one astronomer to The Washington Post was “uncomfortably close.”
Michael Brown, who is an associate professor in astronomy at Monash University in Australia wrote in The Conversation that if the asteroid had collided with the Earth, devastating damages would have been caused by the crash.
2019 OK was separately discovered by the astronomers in the United States & Brazil a couple of days ago, but its surprise visit was only broadcasted a few hours before it passed by. Brown wrote that the lack of warnings indicates how rapidly potentially dangerous asteroids can sneak upon us. And although this asteroid isn’t a threat to Earth right now, other such near-Earth asteroids could be.
For an instance, in 2013, a meteor snuck up on us & exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia; that blast was stronger than a nuclear explosion, and the subsequent shock wave shattered glass down below & injured over 1,000 people. The Chelyabinsk meteor was way smaller than 2019 OK, spanning around 66 feet i.e. 20 meters across.
Both the 2019 OK and Chelyabinsk meteor snuck past devices of astronomers & paid surprise visits.
When 2019 OK came closer to our planet, it could have been spotted by anyone nearby with a pair of binoculars as a speck of light gently drifting across the sky, Brown wrote. However, a couple of days earlier to that, it was a thousand times fainter & was more difficult to spot. Also, it was traveling fast along an odd elliptical orbit which pushed it beyond Mars.