Photo Credit: NASA
A giant asteroid, known as 2006 QQ23, is moving towards Earth; however, it will sail past our planet today without causing any harm, NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has said. The asteroid measures up to 1,870 feet in diameter, thus making it larger than New York's Empire State Building that is 1,454 feet in height. The Asteroid 2006 QQ23 will make its closest approach to Earth at 3:23am EDT (12:53pm IST) today, however it will safely pass 7.4 million kms (4.6 million miles) from Earth. While that distance doesn't seem like a lot, it is close enough for the scientists to call it a "Near-Earth Object" (NEO).
As Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is within 0.05 astronomical units (7.4 million kms) of our planet, it is close enough to be labeled as potentially hazardous.
"Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid's potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. Specifically, all asteroids with an Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs," NASA writes on its website.
According a report by Newsweek, the Asteroid 2006 QQ23 was spotted back in 2006 and is travelling at a speed of 10,400 mph (16,737 kmph). NASA actively tracks comets and astroids that have any chance of coming in the vicinity of Earth.
"There are some asteroids that have an exceedingly small chance of impacting Earth over the next couple centuries," Paul Chodas of CNEOS told Newsweek. "Asteroid Bennu, which is currently being visited by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, currently has a one-in-a-few-thousand chance of impacting a couple of centuries from now, but as we continue to track this asteroid, I expect that chance to drop to zero. None of the other known asteroids has a significant chance of impacting Earth over the next century."
Over 20,000 NEOs are currently being tracked by the scientists, with around 30 new discoveries every week.
Another asteroid that won't be harming Earth is 2006 QV89. It was believed to be passing by Earth in September this year. It was also discovered in 2006, however after the first ten days, it was never seen again. As the object has not been seen in the expected area, it has been concluded that it is not on a collision course for Earth this year.