Asteroid 2019 OU1 (File Photo)
Identified just a month before, asteroid 2019 OU1 fly past the Earth on Wednesday at around 4 pm. Luckily, the 249 feet to 557.7 feet long asteroid 2019 OU1 did not hit our planet and we remain safe. Described as potentially hazardous, the space rock travelled towards Earth today at a staggering speed of 29,000mph. According to NASA's Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), asteroid 2019 OU1, at its closest approach, was just 640,000 miles or 0.00688 AU from the planet's centre. One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, so coming within just 0.00687 AU was perilously close. It is to be noted that asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. The space rocks (asteroids) approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Asteroids can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. In recent times, many giant asteroids including 2019 OK, 2019 OD, 2015 HM10, 2019 OE, 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others approached towards the Earth, fortunately did not hit our planet. It is said that Earth will reach to its end one day and one of the possible reason for this could be an asteroid.
Talking specifically about 2019 OU1, CNEOS has classified the massive space rock as an 'Apollo asteroid' and like others from this group, fly around the Sun and Earth, occasionally intersecting with the orbit of the planet. It is worth mentioning here that NASA had first observed the asteroid on July 25 this year and has since made a total of 70 observations to determine the rock's size, speed and trajectory. The US space agency had said that 2019 OU1 measures somewhere in the range of 249ft to 557.7ft (76m to 170m) in diameter.
In a statement, NASA said, “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth. “Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres,” it added.
According to a report published by spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.