Five asteroids to fly past Earth on January 6; two are bigger than Eiffel Tower

Five asteroids are set to make a close approach to Earth on January 6, Wednesday, according to the Central for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Three of the asteroids are relatively small and pose little threat to Earth, while the other two are bigger than the Eiffel Tower.

Asteroid named 2008 AF4 is the bigger of the two and is almost half a kilometer wide. If the 2008 AF4 was to crash into Earth, the resulting impact would be the equivalent of 25 to 50 megatons, just like the largest nuclear bombs in existence today.

In terms of determining whether or not an asteroid is an imminent threat, its size matters and its speed can drastically alter the risk level.

Asteroid Time (GMT) Average diameter Speed (kilometres per hour)
2021 AC 03:27 73.5 metres 50,652 kmph
2016 CO247 04:09 340 metres 60,228 kmph
2021 AJ 11:38 19.5 metres 45,648 kmph
2018 KP1 13:21 41 metres 15,948 kmph
332446 (2008 AF4) 21:52 495 metres 39,564 kmph

All it takes is a house-sized asteroid traveling at 30,000 miles per hour to release as much energy as the Hiroshima bomb blast.

This means that although the 2021 asteroid AJ is the smallest among those to fly by Earth on January 6, it is still fast enough to wipe out an entire city if it changes its trajectory.

None of these asteroids, large or small, pose an imminent threat, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They are tracked because they are closer to Earth than 7.5 million kilometers, or 19.5 times the distance between Earth and the Moon, or because they’re bigger than 150 metres.

Source: CNEOS