Friday, July 19th, astronomers and astrophysicists kept an eye close on an asteroid that was approaching a bit too much to Earth. The Center of Near Object Studies released a report on 2019 NJ2, the asteroid that was traveling a little too close to our home planet. 2019 NJ2 is an asteroid, or a minor planet, whose diameter was calculated to be between 28 and 63 meters. The asteroid travels through space with a speed of 48,456 km per hour (13.46 km per second).
2019 NJ2 is also part of the NEAs category. An NEA is a near-earth asteroid whose orbit is quite close to Earth’s orbit. The special ones that traverse Earth’s orbital route are called Earth-crossers. In 2016 some 4,464 NEAs were detected, almost 1,000 of them having more than 1 km in diameter. Earth is no stranger asteroids that hurtle past it in their exploration of the deep space, of solar systems and galaxies. Some of them have stopped to orbit around our planet or sun or other planets of our Solar System, attracted by their gravitational pull. And some of them most likely have or will ‘brush’ Earth.
A small asteroid had just whizzed by the Earth this weekend
For astronomers, a close asteroid means that the space object is around 5 million kilometers away from our planet. It might not seem close to the rest of us, but for the researchers, it is, especially if we were to make a comparison with the average distance between Earth and Mars (225 million km). Among the 4,464 NEAs that orbit Earth, over 500 asteroids have traveled within 7.5 million km of Earth since the beginning of this year. Thirty of these asteroids came even closer, one ‘lunar distance’, to Earth since January; a ‘lunar distance’ is around 384,000 km.
The Center of Near Object Studies classifies the cosmic objects that come closer than 7.5 million km to Earth and that are so big (over 140 meters) that they can produce a catastrophe if they were to hit Earth as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). For the time being, we are safe. There are no observed space objects that threaten to come too close to Earth, never mind the asteroids that quite significant to make a difference.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.