Asteroid May Collide With Earth With Force Of 12-Megaton Bomb, Wyoming Astronomer Says

Asteroid May Collide With Earth With Force Of 12-Megaton Bomb, Wyoming Astronomer Says

***For all things Wyoming, sign up for our daily newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

You might want to stop making plans for Valentine’s Day – in 2046.

This is the predicted day that asteroid 2023 DW, which was discovered on February 26, could intersect with Earth. The object, estimated to be about 164 feet in diameter, has a 1 in 607 chance of crashing into our planet.

And while the impact of a 50-foot-wide rock might not be considered an ELE (extinction-level event, for those who haven’t seen the 1998 movie “Deep Impact”), an impact can still create a disaster zone over 800 square miles.

“An interesting comparison is the Tunguska Event in Siberia in 1908,” said Daniel Dale, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Wyoming. “The object responsible for the Tunguska event was estimated to be 50-80 meters in diameter, similar to estimates of the size of this object.

“The event destroyed 80 million trees over 2,150 square kilometers,” Dale said.

This is equivalent to a 12 megaton bomb. By comparison, Little Boy, the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan on August 6, 1945, was 15 kilotons.

Possible impact path for asteroid DW 2023, expected to hit Earth on February 14, 2046.

Discovery of asteroids

Dale said scientists spot these objects in surveys that repeatedly scan the night sky.

“Any object that appears to be moving relative to the background star field in the Milky Way is a candidate for an asteroid,” Dale told Cowboy State Daily.

“The trajectory is calculated based on tracking the movement over a series of observations. With an estimate of trajectory and velocity, we can extrapolate forward in time its future path,” he said.

The European Space Agency reported the discovery of the asteroid, and the celestial object has been added to the top of the agency’s “danger list,” which tracks objects that could affect Earth.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the world ends on February 14, 2046.

Scale of Turin

2023 DW is ranked on the Torino scale, which rates the seriousness of collision predictions, as level 1, meaning the asteroid poses “no unusual level of risk”.

For reference, there are 10 ten levels on the Turin scale, with a 10 capable of causing global climate catastrophe that “could threaten the future of life as we know it,” according to the scale. But level 10 events only happen once every 250,000 years or so.

2023 DW is the only asteroid on the European Space Agency’s danger list that has a ranking of 1. There are 1,448 other asteroids on the list, each ranked 0.

So while it’s not considered much of a hazard, it remains the most dangerous asteroid on a possible collision course with the planet we know.

Area of ​​influence

Italian astronomer Piero Sicoli determined the potential impact zone, which lies somewhere between the Indian Ocean and the east coast of the United States.

“With only 3 arc days, I found about a 1 in 400 chance of impact on February 14, 2046,” Sicoli tweeted.

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office reported that the risk of 2023 DW hitting the planet in 2046 remains “extremely small”, noting that when new objects are first discovered, it takes weeks of observations to improve official forecasts.

“Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in,” the office tweeted.

***For all things Wyoming, sign up for our daily newsletter***

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *