The asteroid raced from Earth at a distance of only 16,700 miles just four days after its discovery.
The asteroid, known as the 2021 GW4, was moving at 18,700 miles per hour as it passed our planet – nine times faster than a rifle.
At its nearest point, 2021 GW4 passed us only 7 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. In addition, it was much closer to us than some artificial geostationary satellites, which usually orbit about 22,000 miles. The closest passage of the asteroid occurred at 9:01 am ET.
Astronomer Gianluca Massi, the founder of the virtual telescope project, wrote on his website that the asteroid had come “extremely close” to Earth.
Astronomers estimate that the space scale is between 3.5 meters and 7.7 meters wide, according to NASA statistics, which means it is relatively small.
Due to its size, the asteroid was not visible to the naked eye when passing by, but amateur astronomers were able to capture it with telescopes.
The photo below was taken shortly after 8pm ET on Sunday by Masi using a 1
2021 GW4 can be seen as a white spot in the middle of the photo, highlighted by an arrow. It was about 186,000 miles at the time. The blurred lines are caused by the light of the stars as the telescope moves to track the asteroid.
Massi writes that the GW4 approach in 2021 is safe. “Asteroids of this size approaching so close are relatively rare, but so far this year we have had four objects located 0.07 lunar distances from the center of the Earth: 2021 GW4 is the largest of these four rocks,” he said. he.
Sometimes asteroids affect the Earth’s atmosphere and they tend to explode in the air due to the strong forces generated by their speed.
In October 2008, the asteroid 2008 TC3 exploded in the air over Sudan with a force of about 1000 tons of TNT.
The space rock had been discovered just a day earlier by Richard Kowalski in a study by Catalina Skye. Astronomers then predicted when and where it would land, and at the time NASA said the forecast “highlights the successful evolution of the near-Earth program” that tracks the orbits of asteroids that are thought to be close to our planet.
NASA’s Center for Earth Observation has so far discovered more than 25,000 asteroids. It is estimated that about 1,000 of them are larger than 1 km, but most are smaller.