Alan Duffy was confused. On Thursday, the astronomer's phone was suddenly flooded by calls from reporters who wanted to find out about a big asteroid just playing around the Earth, and he could not understand why "everyone was so alarming."
"I thought we all have to worry about something we knew was coming, "said Duffy, also a leading scientist at the Royal Institution in Australia, before The Washington Post, which predicted that this week several asteroids will pass comparatively near the Earth.
Then he sought details "It was a real shock."
This asteroid is not the one the scientists have tracked and it seems to have appeared " from nothing, "said Michael Brown, a Melbourne-based observing astronomer, to The Post, according to NASA, the rocky cliff was large, approximately 1
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"She crashed on us quite quickly," said Casa Brown, an associate professor at Monash University of Physics and Astronomy. People just realize what happened just after he has already thrown us. "
The presence of the asteroid was only discovered earlier this week by individual astronomical teams in Brazil and the United States. shook my morning's complacency, information about her size and way "It's probably the largest asteroid that has been going near the Earth for many years."
So, how did the event almost go unnoticed
First, there is a problem with size, said Duffy.Asteroid 2019 OK is a big stone but it's not as big as those that can cause an event like the disappearance of dinosaurs.More than 90 percent of those asteroids that are 1 kilometer , 0.62 miles or more are already identified by NASA and its partners. "Nothing of this size can be easily detected," Duffy said of a 110-yard wide asteroid. "You really rely on reflected sunlight and even with the closest approach, it's barely visible with a pair of binoculars. "Brown said that the" eccentric orbit "and the asteroid's speed were also likely factors for what caused him to notice it before the time challenge. Its "very elliptical orbit" takes it "beyond Mars to the orbit of Venus," which means that the time it spends near the Earth where it is discoverable is not long, he said. As the Earth approaches, the asteroid travels about 15 miles per second, he said. In contrast, other recent asteroids that were flying from Earth were at a speed of between 2.5 and 12 miles per second.
"Long Time Falls," Brown said: Asteroid 2019 OK. "In one or two weeks it will become bright enough to detect, but someone has to look at the right place. Once it's finally recognized, things are happening quickly, but this thing is approaching fast, so we only somehow knew about it just before flying. "
Last-minute discovery is yet another sign of how much space remains and a sobering reminder of the very real threat that asteroids can pose," said Duffy, "This should all worry about us, "
Duffy said astronomers have nicknamed the type of cosmic rock that has just come so close to Earth:" asteroids killing the city, "he said," this is not a Hollywood movie. "If the asteroid hit the Earth, most of it would be he has reached the ground that has led to devastating damage, said Brown.
"It would have come out as a very large nuclear weapon," with enough force to destroy a city, he said. TNT megatons so that something is not confused. "
In 2013, a significantly smaller meteor, about 22 yards across, collapsed over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and unleashed an intense shock wave that collapsed roofs, broken windows and left about 1200 injured people. strikes the Earth with the same size of Asteroid 2019, it was more than a century ago, said Brown.This asteroid, known as the Tungus event, caused an explosion that equates nearly 500,000 square feet of forest land in Siberia
While the chances of a large asteroid landing on a city are "modest," Bra said that it is still worth allocating resources for detection and prevention.Brown said that Asteroid 2019 OK proves that "there are still dangerous asteroids there we do not know" that "they can arrive at our doorstep without warning . "
Scientists are working on developing at least two approaches to divert potentially harmful asteroids, said Duffy, one of which includes slowly pushing the asteroid slowly out of time and away from Earth, he said. The other thing he called "a very elegant solution," is the gravity tractor. If the asteroid is detected early enough, it could be possible to redirect it with the gravity of a spacecraft, according to NASA.
People should not try to "detonate it with nuclear power," said Duffy.
"It makes a great Hollywood movie," he said. "The challenge with nuke is that it can work or not work, but it would definitely make the asteroid radioactive."
In the Light of Asteroid 2019 OK, the importance of investing in a "global specialized approach" to discover asteroids because "sooner or later there will be one with our name, it's just a matter of when it's not."
"We do not have to go the way dinosaurs, "he said." We actually have the technology to find and deflect with certainty these smaller asteroids if we are committed now.
Emily Lakadala, senior editor of the planetary society that promotes space research, said the recent Miss is a reminder that "this is an important heaven-viewing activity." The more you can learn about an asteroid, the better people can be prepared to prevent possible disasters, she told The Post.
However, Lakdawalla said that while the nearby brush of the asteroid with the Earth may have raised some concern, "this is a zero percent danger to us."
"This is something you learn about something you do not know about you knew like things that fly near us and your inclination to scare you, "she said. "But like ocean sharks, they really will not hurt you and are really fascinating to watch."