From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : 2022 AP7 Asteroid
Mains level : NA
A team of astronomers have spotted a massive near-Earth asteroid called 2022 AP7 believed to be the largest planet killer-sized asteroid to be spotted in nearly a decade.
2022 AP7 Asteroid
- An asteroid is a relatively small chunk of rocky minerals that orbits the Sun, often described as a minor planet.
- 2022 AP7 is among the three asteroids hiding in the glare of the Sun.
- It is 1.5-kilometre-wide and has an orbit that may someday put it on a collision course with our planet.
- At present, researchers have little information about the asteroid, including further details on its possible trajectory and its composition.
- It was found using the Dark Energy Camera at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
What about the other two?
- The two — 2021 LJ4 and 2021 PH27 — have orbits that are safely constrained inside the limits of Earth’s orbit.
- At less than a kilometer in diameter, 2021 LJ4 is the smallest in size.
- The asteroid, 2021 PH27, is the closest known asteroid to the Sun.
- Due to this, its surface gets hot enough to melt lead.
Is there an immediate threat to Earth?
- At present, the asteroid only crosses the Earth’s orbit while it is on the opposite side of the Sun i.e., when the Sun comes between the Earth and the asteroid.
- This will continue for several centuries as it takes the asteroid about five years to orbit the sun.
- If impacted, Earth’s atmosphere would be inundated with dust and pollutants for years, preventing sunlight from entering.
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