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"Planet Killer" Asteroid That Could Hit Earth Found Hidden In Sun's Glare

"Planet Killer" Asteroid That Could Hit Earth Found Hidden In Sun's Glare

The asteroid is 1.5 kilometers wide and already passes through the earth's orbit. If it collides with earth, it could be the end of humanity.

Planet Killer Asteroid Found Hidden In Sun's Glare

Astronomers have discovered a "planet killer" asteroid, hidden in plain sight, in the glare of the sun.

The asteroid is called 2022 AP7 and is one of the three near-earth asteroids (NEAs) found hidden in the inner solar system, between earth and venus. The inner solar system is a particularly difficult place to spot an asteroid because of the intense glare of the sun. However, scientists were able to use the very small moment of twilight to spot these three near-earth asteroids and it only brought bad news for the future.

Two of the three near-earth asteroids have orbits away from earth's orbit and don't pose a threat. 2022 AP7, however, has an orbit that could put it in earth's path someday. What makes this even scarier is the fact that the asteroid is 1.5 kilometers wide, which classifies it as a "planet killer".

Twilight observations with the U.S. Department of Energy-fabricated Dark Energy Camera.  (DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine)
Twilight observations with the U.S. Department of Energy-fabricated Dark Energy Camera. (DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine)

When would this "planet killer" collide with earth? Scientists don't know, but they suspect that it wouldn't be within this century. It was discovered that the "planet killer" already crosses earth's orbit but during that time the earth is on the other side of the sun, far away from any danger.

"Our twilight survey is scouring the area within the orbits of Earth and Venus for asteroids," said Scott S. Sheppard, an astronomer at the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science and the lead author of the paper describing this work.

"So far we have found two large near-Earth asteroids that are about 1 kilometer across, a size that we call ‘planet killers,’" he said.

Sheppard also mentions that there are likely more asteroids in earth's orbit that are hidden in the glare of the sun.

We are hoping that we can find these asteroids before it's too late.

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