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Space & Astronomy

New study offers update on odds of 'killer' asteroid Apophis striking Earth

By T.K. Randall
March 10, 2024 · Comment icon 6 comments
An asteroid striking the Earth.
Fortunately, it doesn't look as though Apophis will strike the Earth. Image Credit: Bing AI / Dall-E 3
When it was first discovered 20 years ago, it was thought that Apophis had a relatively high chance of colliding with us.
Named ominously after the Egyptian god of chaos, Apophis measures 340 meters across and was first spotted by astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona in June 2004.

What made it particularly concerning at the time was the fact that it seemed to have a 2.7% chance of striking the Earth in 2029, making it the most dangerous space rock that we actually knew about.

Fortunately, later observations saw the odds of a collision reduced to 1 in 100,000.

It is now thought that Apophis will miss us by 37,399 kilometers when it passes on April 13, 2029.

There is still one point of concern, however - what if the asteroid happens to impact another, smaller, space rock on its way here and is sent flying in our direction ?
In a new study, astronomer Paul Wiegert and collaborator Benjamin Hyatt sought to find out how likely it was that something like this could actually happen.

"Given how closely Apophis will pass Earth, there is a possible risk that a deflection from its current trajectory may move Apophis closer to impacting us," said Hyatt.

"Hypothetically, another asteroid colliding with Apophis could cause such a deflection, motivating us to study this scenario however unlikely it may be."

By computing the paths of 1.3 million known asteroids, they were eventually able to determine that there was no chance that this potentially killer space rock could be redirected at us in this way.

"We calculated the paths of all known asteroids using a detailed computer simulation of our solar system and the possibility of such an unlikely event was evaluated," said Weigert.

"Fortunately, no such collisions are anticipated."

Source: | Comments (6)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Essan 1 month ago
b*****.  I've been looking forward to apophis hitting.  It's on my bucket list of things to see before I die.  
Comment icon #2 Posted by L.A.T.1961 1 month ago
During its 2029 flyby, Apophis will be easily visible with the naked eye from the Earth (visual magnitude mv around 3 at perigee), especially from Europe and West Africa. NASA already has one mission to study Apophis. After the OSIRIS-REx mission delivered asteroid samples to Earth in September, the main spacecraft flew by Earth on an extended mission rechristened OSIRIS-APEX. It will rendezvous with Apophis immediately after the April 2029 flyby, studying it for the next 18 months.      
Comment icon #3 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 1 month ago
this is a little fart compared to chicxulub who was over 6 miles or 10 km.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 month ago
Anyone that describes an explosion 75,000 times greater than that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb as, "a little fart," should probably see a doctor.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 1 month ago
I said...COMPARED TO [...] come on man, pay attention.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Jon the frog 1 month ago
37,399 kilometers ? What are the chance of it hitting the moon ? It will pass inside the moon orbit.

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