Asteroid 2000 QW7 (Image: YouTube)
Monstrous asteroid 2000 QW7, which came dangerously close to Earth at 5:30 pm on Saturday, zipped past our planet. But there is nothing to cheer because a scientist has warned that the blue planet may not be so fortunate when the asteroid returns in the future. If the asteroid, which measures 2,133 feet (measuring between 290 and 650 metres) and is as Burj Khalifa - world's tallest building, passes through a keyhole, it could get pulled into a path that will take it directly to Earth, reported IBTimes.
Asteroid 2000 QW7, also known as 467317, was travelling at around 14,400 miles/hour during the passing - roughly 19 times the speed of sound!
Thankfully, it passed Earth at a distance of 3.3 million miles, although this is classified as ‘close’ by NASA . Despite such a speed, astronomers were able to snap incredibly detailed images of the asteroid during the passing.
Astronomy site Slooh live-streamed the event, using NASA’s Solar System Telescope in the Canary Islands.
“It might not look that impressive to you if you’re not into astronomy, but that white dot just above centre is the size of New York’s One World Trade Centre and twice the size of London’s Shard. It is travelling at a velocity of 14,361miles/hour. That’s 6.24 kilometres per second. This thing is massive and going very fast, which means it has a huge amount of energy,” Paul Cox, an astronomer with Slooh, said.
“Right at this moment, it is 3.5 million miles away, which might sound like a lot, but those numbers are tiny. It is a stone’s throw in astronomical terms. And this is a pretty big stone to throw!”
Cox added: “If an object this size were to impact Earth, it would leave more than a scratch - it could wipe out a city and cause regional devastation. Yet, just like the dinosaurs, we’re hopelessly ill-prepared for such an event.”
This wasn’t the first time that 2000 QW7 has passed our planet - the asteroid previously zoomed past Earth on 1 September 2000.
Asteroid 2000 QW7 is expected to return in Earth's vicinity on October 19, 2038. It passes Earth at every 19.04 years. Asteroid 2000 QW7 is also classified as an 'Armor asteroid' by NASA.
During its closest approach, asteroid 2000 QW7 was 0.035428 astronomical units (AU) away from Earth. Space materials are considered as near-Earth objects if they pass within 1.3 astronomical units of Earth. An astronomical unit is the distance from Earth to the sun, or 149.6 million km. Asteroid 2000 QW7 was first detected on August 26, 2000.