Saturday, 14 June 2014

Asteroid 2014 HQ124 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 HQ124 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 1 251 000 km (3.25 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly before 6.00 am GMT on Sunday 8 June 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a considerable threat. 2014 HQ124 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 300-940 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 300-940 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be predicted to be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere relatively intact, impacting the ground directly with an explosion that would be 65 000-175 000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Such an impact would result in an impact crater 5-13 km in diameter and devastation on a global scale, as well as climatic effects that would last decades.

Radar delay-Doppler image of asteroid 2014 HQ124. NASA.

2014 HQ124 was discovered on 23 April 2014 by the NEOWISE system on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite. The designation 2014 HQ124 implies that it was the 3317th asteroid (asteroid Q124) discovered in the second half of April 2014 (period 2014 H).

Image of 2014 HQ124 taken on 10 June 2014. The asteroid is the dot at the center of the crosshairs. The elongate horizontal bars are stars; the elongation is caused by the telescope tracking the asteroid during a long exposure. Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project.

2014 HQ124 has a 287 day orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.62 AU from the Sun (62% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably inside the orbit of the planet Venus) and out to 1.07 AU (7% further away from the Sun than the Earth). This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have happened in December 2013 and the next predicted in November 2017. Although it does cross the Earth's orbit and is briefly further from the Sun on each cycle, 2014 HQ124 spends most of its time closer to the Sun than we are, and is therefore classified as an Aten Group Asteroid. As an asteroid on an Earth-orbit crossing trajectory which is large enough to cause serious harm should it collide with Earth it is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.

The calculated orbit of 2014 HQ124. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

See also...


Asteroid 2014 KA91 passed by the Earth at a distance of 3 514 000 km (9.14 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly before 5.30 pm GMT on Friday 6 June 2013...



Asteroid 2014 KQ84 passed by the Earth at a distance of 3 309 000 km (8.61 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly before 8.45 am GMT on Thursday 5 June 2013...



Asteroid 2014 KH39 passed by the Earth at a distance of 439 200 km (1.14 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly after 8.05 pm GMT on Tuesday 3 June 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done son it would have presented no threat. 2014 KB46 has an estimated...


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