A potentially catastrophic asteroid has been discovered by astronomers, who say there’s a slim chance that the 410-meter-wide minor planet will crash into Earth in 2032, creating a blast 50 times greater than the biggest nuclear bomb.
The asteroid, described as 2013 TV135, was found in the Camelopardalis (Giraffe) constellation by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in southern Ukraine, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomers Union said.
“On the night of October 12, I was watching the Giraffe constellation, it was an in-depth monitoring as part of the comet search program,” Gennady Borisov from the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory told Itar-Tass news agency. “This is when the asteroid… was discovered. The first observations show that it moves quickly and is relatively close.”
The discovery has been confirmed by astronomers in Italy, Spain, the UK and Russia. In Russia, it was seen with telescopes at the Master Observatory in the Siberian republic of Buryatia, the IAU Minor Planet Center said.
The asteroid has been added to the List of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, which includes celestial bodies with orbits closer than 7.5 million kilometers from the Earth’s orbit.
However, the threat posed by the 2013 TV135 is minor. Updated estimates show that it has a one in 14,000 chance of colliding with our planet, which is five times as probable as the initial estimate of 1 in 63,000, but still negligible.
Astronomers say the asteroid’s orbit will be about 1.7 million kilometers away from the Earth’s orbit on August 26, 2032.
If the asteroid hits Earth, it would create an explosion equivalent to 2,500 megatons of TNT, which is 50 times greater than the biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated.
Scientists will be able to better evaluate the impact risk of 2013 TV135, and even determine its possible impact site on Earth by 2028, Timur Kryachko from the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The discovery was mentioned by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is pushing for the development of anti-asteroid defense systems.
“Here’s a super-task for our space industry,” Rogozin said of the asteroid on his Twitter page.
The 2013 TV135 has been given a 1 out of 10 rating on the Torino Scale, used to estimate asteroid impact hazards, which means it “poses no unusual level of danger” and “the chance of collision is extremely unlikely.”
According to NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, there is currently just one asteroid that has the same rating. It’s called 2007 VK184. At 130 meters wide, it has 1 in 1,820 chance of impacting Earth on June 3, 2048.
The chances that any other near-Earth asteroid will crash into earth in the next 100 years is estimated at “effectively zero” by NASA.
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