Two asteroids may hit Earth today (Representational Image - File Photo)
A pair of supergiant asteroids (space rocks) identified as 1998 FF14 and 2019 SW1 will arrive very close to Earth today. Yes, you read it right. It is to be noted that asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. The celestial bodies can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. It is said that one day, all life on Earth will extinct and an asteroid could be the possible reason. Shocked to hear that? However, a car-sized asteroid slams into the Earth's atmosphere about once in a year. On the other hand, an asteroid large enough to threaten the existence of life on Earth arrives once in every few million years.
Coming back to asteroid 1998 FF14, the space rock measures up to 1,410ft (430m) across and is rapidly closing in on Earth. It will approach Earth at around 1 pm (IST). At its closest, the space rock will approach our planet from a distance of 0.02780 astronomical units (au). Importantly, a single astronomical unit equals the distance from Earth to the Sun i.e. about 93 million miles (149.6 million km). Well, the flyby of asteroid 1998 FF14 might seem like a lifetime away. But on the larger scale of the solar system, FF14’s approach is a near-miss.
Asteroid 1998 will zoom past our planet at the breakneck speed of 49,794mph (80,136kph). Asteroid 1998 FF14 is classified as “potentially hazardous” by NASA and it is taller than the Empire State Building.
After the approaching space rock near-misses the Earth on September 24 this year, the asteroid will visit Earth’s vicinity on September 28, 2026. Then, Asteroid FF14 will visit again in 2033, 2040, 2043 and will continue to fly by at least until 2196. Importantly, NASA does not expect the asteroid to hit Earth on any of those occasions.
On the other hand, the second asteroid that will dangerously approach Earth today is dubbed as 2019 SW1. The asteroid is moving at a speed of 28,300 miles per hour and has an estimated diameter of 69 feet. The space rock will fortunately zip past the Earth and we are safe.