Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Asteroid 2001 XY10 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2001 XY10 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 18 540 000 km (48.22 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 12% of the average distance between the Sun and the Earth), at about 11.00 am GMT on Monday 22 December 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a serious threat. 2001 XY10 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 260-820 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 260-820 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 with an energy equivalent to about 600- 20 000 megatons of TNT (roughly 35 000-1 175 000 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb). Such an event would result in a crater between 4 and 12 km across, cause devastation on a global scale and would have the potential to affect the climate globally for decades or even centuries after the impact event.

 The calculated orbit of 2001 XY10. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2001 XY10 was discovered on 12 November 2001 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Laboratory in Socorro, New Mexico. The designation 2001 XY10 implies that it was the 274th asteroid (asteroid Y10) discovered in the first half of November 2001 (period 2001 X).

2001 XY10 has a 297 day orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle of 31° to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.53 AU from the Sun (53% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably inside the orbit of Venus) and out to 1.21 AU (21% 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 May 2011 and the next predicted in July 2015. Although it does cross the Earth's orbit and is briefly further from the Sun on each cycle, 2001 XY10 spends most of its time closer to the Sun than we are, and is therefore classified as an Aten Group Asteroid.

See also...

Asteroid 2014 KF39 passed by the Earth at a distance of 16 780 000 km (43.68 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 11.2 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun)...
Asteroid 2014 WM365 passed by the Earth at a distance of 8 165 000 km (21.26 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 5.4 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun)...
Asteroid 2014 WD497 passed by the Earth at a distance of 6 144 000 km (15.95 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 4.1 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun)...
 
 
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