Asteroid Apophis, equal to size of three football fields, may hit Earth in 2068

A massive asteroid, which is equal to the size of three-and-a-half football fields, may hit the Earth in 2068. A phenomenon called the Yarkovsky effect may force asteroid Apophis to crash into the Earth.

Asteroid Apophis’ flow eventually accelerated and its path was also changed due to the Yarkovsky effect.

However, astronomers, who are closely studying Asteroid Apophis, think that the chances of an impact are low but a possibility is still there. They “will know well before 2068 if there is any chance of an impact”.

Asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004 and it is 1,120-foot-wide (340-meter-wide), National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

“All asteroids need to reradiate as heat the energy they absorb from sunlight in order to maintain thermal equilibrium, a process that slightly changes the orbit of the asteroid,” a press release by the University of Hawaii said.

The collision possibility was impossible before the Yarkovsky effect was discovered. “The detection of this effect acting on Apophis means that the 2068 impact scenario is still a possibility,” it read.

The asteroid will be extremely close to Earth on April 13, 2029 and now it is deviating from its orbit and may hit the Earth in 2028, according to astronomers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“We have known for some time that an impact with Earth is not possible during the 2029 close approach,” lead author David Tholen said.

“The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis, and they show that the asteroid is drifting away from a purely gravitational orbit by about 170 meters per year, which is enough to keep the 2068 impact scenario in play,” he said.

“Basically, the heat that an asteroid radiates gives it a very tiny push… The warmer hemisphere [of the asteroid] would be pushing slightly more than the cooler hemisphere, and that causes the asteroid to drift away from what a purely gravitational orbit would predict,” David Tholen was quoted as saying during a press conference.

Tholen says some astronomers found this asteroid quite troublesome with “numerous impact scenarios” predicted but then they largely ruled it out since its first discovery in 2004.

FRIDAY THE 13TH

Asteroid Apophis has been named after the Greek God of Chaos. It is likely to fly past Earth on April 13, 2029, Friday, according to the release. However, it will be harmless.

Asteroid Apophis will be visible to the naked eye in the night sky and it will get brighter and faster as it will fly past Earth.

According to Nasa, during its 2029 flyby, “asteroid Apophis will first become visible to the naked eye in the night sky over the southern hemisphere”. It will look like “a speck of light moving from east to west over Australia”.

According to NASA, the asteroid will cross the Indian Ocean and will cross the equator over Africa.

“The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science,” said a scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.