Astronomers have found a large asteroid whose orbit intersects that of the Earth. The orbital crossing creates a possibility for an impending catastrophic collision. 2022 AP7 is the designation given to the asteroid, which is 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) broad.
The region where the discovery was made had poor visibility due to Sun’s glare. The Astronomical Journal reported the findings.
The asteroid and two other near-Earth asteroids were discovered by the Victor M. Blanco telescope in Chile, which was built to research dark matter.
‘2022 AP7 crosses Earth’s orbit, which makes it a potentially hazardous asteroid, but it currently does not now or anytime in the future have a trajectory that will have it collide with the Earth,’ said lead author of the findings, astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
‘It is the largest object that is potentially hazardous to Earth to be discovered in the last eight years,’ said NOIRLab, a US-funded research group that operates multiple observatories.
Under its current orbit, 2022 AP7 takes five years to circle the Sun, which is still millions of kilometres away from Earth at its closest point. Because of this, there is little chance of a collision, but Sheppard warned that a large asteroid ‘would have a terrible impact on life as we know it.’