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Earth Escapes Being Hit By An Asteroid That Zoomed Past The Planet

First Posted: Jan 10, 2017 02:22 AM EST
Asteroid 2017 AG13
Asteroid 2017 AG13 flew past Earth recently. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : Anselmo La Manna/YouTube screenshot)

Earth reportedly missed a close encounter with an asteroid that zoomed past the planet on Jan. 9. The asteroid called 2017 AG13, which was first spotted by scientists three days ago, flew by Earth at just half the distance from Earth to the Moon at 7:47 a.m. EST.

According to Space.com, the University of Arizona-based Catalina Sky Survey discovered the asteroid on Jan. 7. As per astronomers from Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017 AG13 is thought to have a measurement between 36 and 111 feet wide.

"This is moving very quickly, very nearby to us," said expert Eric Feldman with astronomy news website Slooh, as reported by News.com.au. Feldman also added that 2017 AG13 was approximately the same size as the asteroid that exploded in the sky above Russia's Chelyabinsk region in 2013, injuring over 1,000 people with flying glass and debris, as well as causing shattered windows and minor damage to buildings over a wide area.

As per Space.com, the initial observations of the space rock showed that it takes about 347 Earth days to circle the Sun, "on an orbit much more elliptical than that of Earth: 2017 AG13 gets as close to our star as 0.55 astronomical units (AU), and as far away as 1.36 AU." Incidentally, 1 AU is the average distance from planet Earth to the Sun, which is around 93 million miles.

According to scientists, surprise flybys like the one seen recently made by 2017 AG13 are not really an unprecedented occurrence. In fact, numerous asteroids, to the tune of millions, are thought to zoom around the space surrounding Earth. Furthermore, astronomers have discovered nearly 15,000 such asteroids till date.

For those who are worried about the possible damage caused by surprise flybys by asteroids, there is good news. The asteroids capable of causing large-scale damage or global destruction, if they were to hit the planet, have already been discovered. Furthermore, none among the discovered asteroids pose a threat of collision in the foreseeable future.

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